Apple has suffered a significant setback in its ongoing trial against Fortnite creator Epic Games.
A California court ruled that Apple cannot prevent app developers from directing users to third-party payment options.
Apple had argued that all apps should use the company’s in-app payment options.
Epic Games had challenged Apple’s up-to-30% cut from purchases in a high-profile trial, claiming that the App Store was monopolistic.
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers ruled on Friday that “the court cannot eventually conclude that Apple is a monopolist.”
She did, however, issue a permanent injunction, stating that Apple could no longer prevent developers from linking to their own purchasing mechanisms.
A movie-streaming service, for example, will now be able to tell customers to subscribe via its own website rather than through Apple’s in-app purchasing mechanism.
Epic has also filed a lawsuit against Google over the Play Store.
Apple’s closed payments system is extremely profitable for the tech giant, though the company claims it does not know how much it earns.
The decision effectively states that Apple cannot prohibit developers from communicating with customers. There are frequently cheaper alternatives for consumers outside of the App Store, but Apple does not allow companies to inform customers of this.
Epic argued that this was unreasonable, and that developers should be able to notify users that they could make purchases outside of the App Store.
In a victory for Apple, the judge also ruled that Epic had failed to demonstrate that Apple was operating an illegal monopoly.
“Apple enjoys a significant market share of over 55 percent and extraordinarily high profit margins,” said Judge Yvonne Gonzales-Rogers.
“However, these factors alone do not demonstrate antitrust conduct,” he added. It is not illegal to be successful.”
“Today the Court has affirmed what we’ve known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law,” an Apple spokesperson said.
“Apple faces stiff competition in every market in which we operate, and we believe that customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world.”
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, stated that the ruling was “not a win for developers or consumers” and vowed to “fight on.”