Apple is widely expected to ask a judge to prevent the order from going into effect. Both companies could also appeal to the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals. In this court, a three-judge panel could review the decision, a process that could take a year or more. After a ruling there, Apple or Epic could appeal to the Supreme Court.
The verdict allows both sides to claim a partial victory. Apple now has a court ruling that it does not have a monopoly on a major digital marketplace, undermining its opponents’ efforts to claim that it is violating antitrust laws. But Epic’s lawsuit could also force Apple to break its airtight iPhone software in an attempt to create a way for developers to bypass their commission.
Apple’s shares fell nearly 3 percent after the ruling was announced on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
“Today the court confirmed what we knew all along: The App Store does not violate antitrust law,” Apple said in a statement. “As the court recognized, ‘success is not illegal.’ Apple faces fierce competition in every segment we operate in, and we believe customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world. “
The ruling upheld many of the principles of Apple’s App Store business, including that it can ban third-party iPhone app marketplaces and continue to charge a 30 percent commission on many transactions. Epic had questioned these practices.
“It puts an economic question mark on the App Store, but it also affirms the company’s principles,” said Adam Kovacevich, a former Google lobbyist who now heads a technology policy group that is partially sponsored by Apple.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic, said on twitter that he was not satisfied with the verdict because it didn’t go far enough to allow companies to complete in-app transactions with their own payment systems instead of referring customers to external websites. He said Fortnite would not return to the App Store until such rules are in place.
“Today’s verdict is not a win for developers or consumers,” he said. “We will keep fighting.”
Mr Rubin, the antitrust attorney, said Apple would feel relieved to break out of the monopoly position, but that the judge’s ruling would most likely do little to bolster its position in other investigations as antitrust lawsuits can vary. He said Apple may also need to consider lowering its commission because it would be easier for developers to send customers elsewhere to shop.