Facebook is trying to not hand over requested documents to Apple regarding Epic Games lawsuit

While, technically speaking, Epic Games is suing Apple, there are different companies being roped into the legal battle for various reasons. Facebook, for instance, is testifying on behalf of Epic Games. But that doesn’t mean the company is trying to be as helpful as it can be, at least not when it comes to Apple.

According to a report today from MacRumors, based on a new discovery letter filed with the court recently, Facebook is trying to not hand over quite a few requested documents to Apple, which has requested a “limited set of documents” as part of the legal process. Apple believes these documents will help it form a better cross examination of Facebook executive Vivek Sharma, who is set to testify on Epic’s behalf.

Sharma will be testifying against Apple as it relates to the company’s restrictions within the App Store, app distribution in general on iOS, and more.

Apparently Facebook has handed over upwards of 1,600 documents related to Sharma at this point. However, the company believes it is “untimely, unfair, and unjustified request to redo fact discovery”, as Apple is apparently requesting now. The report indicates Apple feels there are over 16,000 documents related to Sharma that are relevant to the case.

Apple says Facebook has been using “delaying tactics”, and outright ignored requests for documentation up to this point. Apple has reportedly had multiple subpoenas served against Facebook dating back to December of last year. Apple has even met with Facebook in an attempt to narrow the document requests, but the social network has been so far unhelpful in this regard.

Interestingly, Apple apparently relented on the requests, but, at the same time, told Facebook it would stop further engagement in this regard if no Facebook executives testified in the upcoming trial. That did not pan out, though, as Epic Games itself has brought on Sharma in its witness list.

Despite Facebook’s knowledge of the time constraints in this action, it stalled for five days purportedly because “there is unavoidable technical processing time baked in to” investigating the burden of production, and finally admitted on March 29 it did not intend to produce more documents.

Facebook says the timing of Apple’s requests are “improper”, which apparently is one of the reasons the company is not listening to the requests.

If Apple believed that production was insufficient in any way, it had every opportunity to move to compel within 7 days of the close of discovery as required by the Court’s Rules. Apple chose not to, making this motion untimely. Instead, claiming surprise by Epic’s disclosure of Mr. Sharma as a trial witness–even though Epic’s complaint quoted him by name–Apple now demands that Facebook review and produce an enormous number of additional documents.

As of now, Apple is requesting the court force Facebook to comply with the requests.

The trial between Epic Games and Apple is set to start in May.

The timeline of events that brought us to today is below.

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 businessesimpacted 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

October 7, 2020

  • Judge rules that the court battle between Apple and Epic Games will resume in May 2021.

November 5, 2020

  • Fortnite returns to iOS thanks to GeForce Now game streaming service, and only available via Safari.

December 17, 2020

  • Judge orders both Tim Cook and Craig Federighi to testify in the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games.

December 21, 2020

January 14, 2021

February 1, 2021

  • Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is ordered to sit through a 7-hour deposition

February 10, 2021

February 22, 2021

February 25, 2021

  • After some delay, a judge ruled that Valve has to hand over requested documentation to Apple

March 1, 2021

  • Apple and Epic Games’ trial may be in person, and it is set to start in May