Epic Games vs Apple Legal Battle to Head to In-Person Trial in May
Update 03/02/2021: Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has now set a May 3 in-person trial date for the Epic vs. Apple case.
As reported by MacRumors, lawyers for both sides took part in a management conference with the judge, who plans to have all possible witnesses appear in-person in the Northern California court (with health considerations taken into account for those who cannot travel). The move has been deemed important enough that it should be heard in person.
“When someone walks into the United States courthouse through courthouse doors and they sit on the stand and raise their right hand, it gives them pause,” Judge Gonzalez Rogers said, per Law360. “That’s really different than sitting in the comfort of your house or comfort of your office, and cross-examination is different.”
Judge Gonzalez Rogershas stressed that health precautions will be taken in the courtroom, with details to be finalised in the run-up to May 3. “We’re still working on precise format. Worst-case scenario is a full bench trial by Zoom, but it will happen,” she said.
Update 11/11/2020: The judge presiding over the Epic Games vs. Apple case has thrown out some of Apple’s claims brought in a counter-suit against the makers of Fortnite.
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers explained that she would not accept Apple’s claims of theft from Epic, and would not award monetary damages beyond those of the breach-of-contract case the companies are embroiled in.
”This is a high-stakes breach of contract case and an antitrust case and that’s all in my view,” the judge explained, per Bloomberg. ”You can’t just say it’s independently wrongful,” she told Apple’s lawyer. “You actually have to have facts.”
The case will continue as a breach-of-contract dispute, and will begin in earnest in May 2021.
Update: Last Friday, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has granted Epic’s injunction, preventing Apple from removing Epic’s developer account and denying iOS developers access to the Unreal Engine. However, Gonzalez Rogers also ruled that Apple is allowed to keep Fortnite off the App Store.
Citing the magnitude of the case, the Judge presiding over the ongoing Apple vs. Epic legal case has stopped Apple from terminating Epic’s developer account, which would prevent the company from releasing updates for the Unreal Engine on iOS.
However, Fortnite will remain banned on iOS. A court date has been scheduled for Summer 2021 which will hopefully determine an outcome for the trial.
While it’s unclear where the court stands on the legal fight between Epic and Apple, Gonzalez Rogers wrote in their injunction grant “Epic Games has strong arguments regarding Apple’s exclusive distribution through the iOS App Store, and the in-app purchase (“IAP”) system through which Apple takes 30% of certain IAP payments.”
But they added, “However, given the limited record, Epic Games has not sufficiently addressed Apple’s counter-arguments.”
Original Story: The Epic Games vs Apple legal battle begins properly today as a hearing takes place to review evidence and decide on the legal outcome of Apple and Epic’s feud.
A hearing will take place today, September 28, with U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in place to make the decision. Public opinion seems largely on Epic’s side as the company is seen to be challenging the status quo, but that’s no indication as to where the judge will draw the line.
If you’ve not been keeping up with Epic and Apple’s disagreement, this all began when Epic implemented a direct-pay system into Fortnite. This meant that any V-bucks purchases sent money straight to Epic, bypassing the Apple App Store and ensuring Apple could not take a cut.
Naturally, Apple did not take kindly to this, and so the company removed Fortnite from the App Store. In response, Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple. It also began the #FreeFortnite hastag, along with an in-game event that featured a parody of the Apple 1984 commercial. Many saw these tactics as Epic weaponising its fans to hold sway against Apple.
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Apple responded by claiming that any damage Epic was suffering was “self-inflicted”. Despite requests from Epic, the courts ruled that Apple did not have to reinstate Fortnite on the App Store, which further damaged Epic’s fortunes. Epic quickly submitted a second request to be reinstates after reporting that daily active users of Fortnite on iOS was down over 60%.
The fate of this feud now lies with U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will make a decision based on today’s hearing of the Preliminary Injunction, which begins at 9:30am.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.