Apple and Epic Square Off in Preliminary Hearing on Zoom

Russell Brandom, reporting for The Verge:

On Monday, Epic Games and Apple faced off in the first hearing of their ongoing legal fight, held in a public Zoom call because of the ongoing quarantine restrictions. The hearing sought to determine whether Epic’s developer privileges should be legally protected — initially by a temporary restraining order, setting the stage for a more powerful preliminary injunction that would remain in force for the duration of the trial.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers did not issue an immediate ruling on the issue, but said she would be issuing a written order after the fact “and I will issue it quickly.”

However, Judge Gonzalez Rogers opened the hearing by indicating she was likely to take action to protect the Unreal Engine, but let the Fortnite ban stand. “I am not inclined to grant relief with respect to the games,” the judge said, “but I am inclined to grant relief with respect to the Unreal Engine.”

Effectively, Apple’s threat to revoke all of Epic’s Apple Developer Program memberships — not just the account for the subsidiary behind Fortnite but also that of the subsidiary behind Unreal Engine — has made this into two cases: the main part regarding Fortnite and the iOS App Store, and a second part regarding Unreal Engine and all Apple platforms.

Judge Gonzalez Rogers’s take sounds right for now: in Apple’s favor regarding Fortnite, and in Epic’s favor regarding Unreal Engine.

For good play-by-play livestream coverage of the hearing, I suggest reading Sarah Jeong’s thread on Twitter.

Update: Judge Gonzalez Rogers ruled exactly as she was inclined. Seems fair, and the ruling’s “background” section is an excellent, accurate, and fair assessment of the saga to date.

Monday, 24 August 2020