women uses her iPhone mobile device as she passes a lighted Apple logo at the Apple store in New York
A women uses an iPhone mobile device as she passes a lighted Apple logo at the Apple store at Grand Central Terminal in New York City, U.S., April 14, 2023. Reuters

A U.S. appeals court on Monday upheld a federal court's order that could force Apple Inc to change payment practices in its App Store, and Apple said it may appeal the decision. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a 2021 order in an antitrust case brought by "Fortnite" creator Epic Games that could require Apple to allow developers to provide links and buttons for third-party in-app payment options and avoid paying sales commissions to the iPhone maker.

Apple shares were up slightly at $165.25.

"For the second time in two years, a federal court has ruled that Apple abides by antitrust laws at the state and federal levels," Apple said in a statement. "We respectfully disagree with the court's ruling on the one remaining claim under state law and are considering further review."

Apple did not say whether it planned to appeal to a larger group of judges on the 9th Circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court. The company has 14 days to file its appeal. The trial court's orders will remain paused while any appeals unfold.

Epic did not immediately return a request for comment.

While Epic lost at trial on most of its allegations that Apple violated antitrust laws, the trial judge did find that Apple violated California's unfair competition laws by barring developers from telling users about other ways to pay.

The appeals court upheld the trial judge's orders to Apple to change those practices.

"The district court did not clearly err in finding that Epic suffered an injury for which monetary damages would

be inadequate," the 9th Circuit wrote on Monday.

Apple has been forced to open up its in-app payment systems by competition authorities in other countries such as South Korea, the Netherlands and Japan.