Judge orders Tim Cook and Craig Federighi to testify in legal battle with Epic Games

It’s been a bit quiet on the Epic Games vs Apple front as of late. However, before 2020 wraps up, at least one judge had one more thing to add to the mix: ordering Apple’s CEO (Tim Cook) and head of iOS and macOS development (Craig Federighi) to testify.

The information comes straight from court documentation filed this week (via iMore). Epic Games appears to be making its own laundry list of demands, including documents and testimonies on the part of Apple’s, in the ongoing legal battle between the two companies. In light of these requests by Epic Games, Apple is apparently arguing that it would put a burden on the company.

As part of its requests, Epic Games is looking to have Apple hand over “extensive documentation” regarding the App Store and the policies Apple has in place for the digital storefront. Apple has said previously that Cook would be available to testify on behalf of the company. However, Cook’s only got four hours available on the books to do so. The judge denied this request to limit Cook’s availability, though.

Apple has agreed to make Cook a document custodian on the condition that Plaintiffs limit their deposition of him to four hours. The only issue in dispute between the parties is whether this condition is appropriate. The Court finds that it is not. Plaintiffs cannot meaningfully assess how long this deposition should be until they see Cook’s documents. The Court orders Apple to make Cook a document custodian. The length of his deposition can be addressed later.

Interestingly, it looks like Apple was trying to make it so Federighi didn’t have to testify in this particular matter. Instead, Apple was trying to get software manager Eric Neuenshwander to step in instead.

First, Plaintiffs have shown that Federighi is a higher-level decision maker whose documents are more likely to go to the heart of Apple’s business justification defense. Second, if Plaintiffs have guessed wrong, and Federighi’s documents are not as relevant as Neuenschwander’s are, that hurts Plaintiffs. Assuming the requests are relevant and proportional, it is up to Plaintiffs to decide what discovery they want to take to prove their claims, and if they make bad choices, that’s their problem.

Apple will have to follow the judge’s decree on this one, so both Cook and Federighi will be carving out time in their busy schedules to comply. We know at this point that the legal battle between the two companies will get back into gear for real in May of next year.

And, as a refresher, here’s the timeline on what got us to this point:

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

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

September 8, 2020

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

September 24, 2020

  • Epic Games, Spotify, Tile, and other companies create the “Coalition for App Fairness” to take on Apple’s and Google’s digital storefront policies.

September 28, 2020