Today marked the first hearing in what will probably be many in the fight between Apple and Epic Games. And we can probably expect this battle between two giant companies to go on for quite some time.
Today, as noted by AppleInsider, Apple and Epic Games’ battle over the App Store, Fortnite, in-app purchases, walled gardens, and much more started with a virtual hearing. Both companies’ legal times were present at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (virtually). Interestingly, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers suggested that while the standard proceedings are necessary, so should the opinion of the people.
Judge Gonzalez Rogers said that it’s probably worthwhile to understand what “real people think” in this regard. Are these issues that Epic Games, and Apple, is bringing up something the regular consumer cares about? Are the security issues an important aspect to the regular person out there?
This is a suggestion, yes, but the legal teams have until Tuesday to declare whether or not they are demanding trial by jury. The original report suggests that Epic Games is leaning towards a bench trial, though, apparently wanting to avoid a jury.
As far as deadlines are concerned, the first deadline for filing documentation and other data for the trial is January 6, 2021. The trial will begin sometime in July of next year. So unless something happens on the settlement front outside of the courts, this is a fight that will be going on for some time.
What’s notable, too, is that Judge Gonzalez Rogers gave some notable pushback to Epic Games’ statements and claims against Apple:
The judge repeatedly highlighted that the matter was of Epic’s own doing, at times when Epic’s lawyers urged there was harm. Epic forced Apple’s hand in the matter, and it also has the opportunity to agree to Apple’s rules for “Fortnite” to be readmitted to the App Store.
There was also some pushback on Epic’s repeated declarations that Apple was a monopolist, as well as Epic’s disregarding of rules and not being “forthright” with Apple itself. The judge also highlights the oddity of Epic’s arguments against Apple comparing a smartphone to a game console due to size reasons, by referencing the existence of the Nintendo Switch.
In a separate report detailing the full events of the first virtual hearing, AppleInsider says Judge Gonzalez Rogers does not seem “convinced” of the company’s claims of antitrust behavior from Apple.
So, how did we get to this point? Let’s look over the timeline!
August 13, 2020
- Epic Games updates Fortnite on the server-side, bypassing the App Store review process. It adds a direct payment option, breaking another rule in the process.
- Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store due to Epic Games breaking the App Store rules.
- Epic Games launches a media blitz, and it also sues Apple for anti-competitive behavior.
- Epic launches “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite”, a parody video of Apple’s original “1984” ad:
- Google removes Fortnite from the Play Store, as Epic Games also violated the Play Store’s rules.
- Epic sues Google, too.
- Spotify weighs in! Unsurprisingly, it applauds Epic Games for its decision to stand up against Apple.
August 14, 2020
- Facebook says Apple’s App Store fees make it impossible to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
August 17, 2020
- Apple threatens to revoke Epic Games’ developer accounts for not only iOS, but also macOS. That cut-off is set to take place on Friday, August 28, 2020.
August 18, 2020
- Apple issues an official statement on the matter in response to Epic Games.
- Epic Games is revealed to have sought a coalition of “Apple critics” to help fight against Apple.
August 20, 2020
- The Wall Street Journal and other news publications sign an open letter asking for Apple to reduce its App Store fees down to a standard 15%.
August 21, 2020
- Epic Games promotes the #FreeFortnite Cup, or tournament, that is meant to bring even more attention against Apple, and is promoting “anti-Apple” prizes.
- Epic sought special treatment for Fortnite before it declared war against Apple and the App Store’s guidelines.
August 24, 2020
- Judge Gonzalez-Rogers rules that Apple does not need to reinstate Fortnite back into the App Store as the legal battle wages on. The judge also rules that Apple cannot revoke the Unreal Engine development tools, but it can still move forward with removing Epic’s developer account for iOS and macOS.
- Apple says it agrees with the ruling made by Judge Gonzalez-Rogers, and is prepared to welcome Fortnite back onto iOS as soon as Epic Games is ready to follow the App Store guidelines.
August 26, 2020
- Epic confirms that the new season of Fortnite, which is Marvel-themed, will not be available on iOS or Mac. Cross-platform functionality with those platforms is also removed.
August 28, 2020
- Epic lets Fortnite players know in an email that it’s Apple’s fault they can’t play the new season of the game.
- Apple revokes Epic Games’ App Store and developer accounts.
September 8, 2020
- Apple countersues Epic Games in what it claims is a “breach of contract” related to its App Store practices.
September 9, 2020
- Epic Games says Apple is going to disable the “Sign in with Apple” feature as soon as Friday, September 11.
- Apple changes its mind regarding “Sign in with Apple”, allows existing customers to keep using it.
September 10, 2020
September 18, 2020
- Epic Games shuts down Fortnite: Save the World for Mac as of September 23.