Lawyers for Apple and Epic once again almost met Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers to fight today. As with the last hearing, this was again over Epic’s injunction requests that prevented Apple from banning Unreal Engine from Apple platforms, and more importantly for Epic, Fortnite from the iOS App Store. While the first hearing made it seem very likely that Unreal will remain unharmed, Epic did not do well in the defense of Fortnite today.
Other than a few jabs at Apple over competition and where their fee structure is based on, Judge Rogers reserved the vast majority of her sharp comments and insults against Epic. And it wasn̵
Judge Rogers shot down their argument that Apple’s In App Purchases is a separate monopoly company before a word was said by one of the legal teams. She denied that the 30% cut was excessive even, without a word from Apple’s advice. Epic’s argument about when and how Apple allegedly became a monopoly came under fire. They continued the arguments to defend the breach of contract to set up their own IAP solution and withdrew a claim of flat dishonesty from the judge. Au. From there, Judge Rogers made it clear that she believes Epic brought the difficulty of Fortnite that was thrown out of the App Store to itself.
In a nutshell, she did not buy much, if any, of it. While I do not think Apple made any progress against Unreal (and I do not think it is reasonable that they would be able to do so), it certainly seems that Fortnite is out of the App Store for the rest of the year and most of 2021. Judge Rogers even tried to expand an olive branch with a proposal to put money related to Fortnite on hold pending the end of the case if they remove their IAP hack and join the App Store. The epic team’s response was incredibly complacent: “This court should not give its assistance to illegal provisions by monopolists …” Considering that it came at the end of a convincing battle, it sounded less and less to me.
None of what happened today guarantees Apple a victory in this case, but it does not hurt either. This was really just the end of the beginning of this case. Today’s action, however, underlined the fact that Epic has the tougher path to victory for the two. The referee who keeps Fortnite out of the App Store (or bends Epic to get it back in) is a win for Apple. The case, which will be pushed well into next year, is also good for Apple, as Epic’s team was clear that they wanted the case to go as quickly as possible.
Other than preserving Unreal on Apple platforms, Epic seems to have come empty-handed in round 1. It was also very clear that Judge Rogers is starting the proceedings with opinions that do not seem to be in their favor. It was clear today that she did not agree that their arguments about Apple’s IAP, Apple’s status as an illegal monopoly or that their payment structure was excessive. However, if this turns out to be a jury trial, as Judge Rogers recommended, it will have no say other than in how she presents the evidence for the cases.
I will not even try to hide my bias here. I can not stand Epic or Tim Sweeney and have nothing but contempt for what they are doing in this case. It has more to do with my attitude to free business and a business’s rights to run a private marketplace than what I feel about Apple. I do not favor any business that seeks to limit a distribution model for products that I use every day in my daily work.
I do not deny that Apple needs to change how they manage the App Store in any way, and I have written about this before. While I’m glad Apple’s made some conciliatory moves with regard to its online marketplace and developers recently due to increasing pressure on them, I think they still have a long way to go. However, I also agree with Apple’s legal team that Epic’s suit is trying to invalidate their private marketplace business model in favor of someone who directly benefits Epic as a massive company, itself. There is nothing about their suit that is beneficial to anyone other than Tim Sweeney or companies other than Epic.
Whether we’re talking about Apple or Google, I think these cases are a pathetic joke and nothing more than an advertising stunt by a petulant billionaire with deep enough pockets to stay in the game while trying to portray himself and his company as the little one. the guy. Because of that, I will not hide that I thought it was entertaining to follow today’s negotiations.
I have a feeling that Tim Sweeney is already finding reception in both public opinion and the actual court cooler than he expected at the beginning of his little quest. I hope it continues as long as his three ring circuses last, and that it ends in a resounding loss for him and his company in the Supreme Court. Let US and EU governments regulate and public pressure and developer criticism change Apple. We can already see that the increasing pressure on them, completely independent of this trial, is beginning to yield positive results. After today, the odds are that this side show will not achieve more than many headlines and a billion dollars being flushed down the drain.