The ongoing legal tensions between Apple and Epic had a day in virtual court. The current situation hasn’t changed in any notable ways yet–Apple’s ban on Fortnite will continue for the time being–but it was overall a difficult day for Epic and set the stage for the case to be heard next July.
CNET reports that California Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers upheld the ban and said the companies will hear from her in writing. She recommended a trial by jury, but that next step will be up to Apple or Epic to request. She noted that her courtroom is “just a stepping stone” toward the likely inevitability of a jury trial.
Rogers took a harsh tone with Epic, saying that it had circumvented Apple’s policy despite its contractual obligations. At different points she said Epic was “not forthright” and even that it had “lied” by issuing an update when it knew Apple’s contract prevented it from doing so, according to CNN tech reporter Brian Fung. She also said it wasn’t forthcoming and referred to its overall demeanor as a “security issue.” Fung characterized the judge as generally skeptical of Epic’s claims.
Rogers suggested that while awaiting trial, Apple may allow Fortnite back onto the App Store while the money collected was held in escrow. Apple’s lawyers said they would have to confer, but Epic turned down the offer and said the court shouldn’t provide assistance to “unlawful provisions by monopolists.”
If Epic maintains that compromise position, we may not see Fortnite appear on the App Store until after the trial concludes. Given that it isn’t even slated to start until July 2021, that may be a long time.
The legal standoff began when Epic Games offered Fortnite V-Bucks with a direct payment through Epic that circumvented Apple’s usual payment mechanisms. That triggered Apple to pull the game from the App Store, which then triggered a suit accusing Apple of anticompetitive business practices.
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