Epic Games And Apple Legal Battle Moves To Trial By July 2021
The Epic Games and Apple legal battle that started back in August moves to trial based on Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers’ ruling during the hearing on Monday. During the hearing, Judge Gonzales Rogers drilled both companies on the merits of the case and upon hearing their arguments, decided that a trial by jury is the best course of action.
According to Venture Beat, Epic objected to Apple's 30% cut from in-app purchases during the hearing, arguing that IAP’s are separate aftermarket products and that other apps also make use of alternative payment processing systems. Epic also says that the App Store ban has denied them access to a market that spends more on apps compared to Android users.
In response, Apple said that Epic’s exclusion from the App Store is “self-inflicted” and that iOS players have access to alternative payment options thanks to Fortnite’s cross-platform nature. Apple also added that their payment system is designed to offer a safe and secure payment method to its users. Epic then countered by pointing out that 54% of iOS users have opted to use Epic’s direct payment feature instead of Apple’s during a set period. “We eliminated Apple’s ability to say there is no separate product,” said Epic’s legal team. “We showed that there is.”
While Judge Gonzales ultimately agreed with Epic’s evidence, she also said that Epic deliberately chose not to comply with Apple’s requirements. She also agreed with Apple that IAPs are not a separate product and viewed Epic’s decision to introduce a direct payment method as a form of sabotage. Judge Gonzales Rogers, however, believes that the antitrust case would benefit more from the opinions of a jury and scheduled trials to start as early as July 2021. And, since the judge didn’t rule for or against Fortnite, it remains banned from the App Store.
“I think this is going to be a fascinating trial,” said Judge Gonzales Rogers. “Walled gardens have existed for decades. Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. In this particular industry, what Apple is doing is not much different. I think personally this case should be tried to a jury. I want everyone to think about that. I don’t think individual judges have the be-all and end-all here.”