U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers says she is not “inclined” to force Apple to return Fortnite to the App Store with Epic Games’ new direct in-app payment system intact. However, she is also leaning towards allowing Epic to maintain its Unreal Engine.
Judge Rogers, who is presiding over Apple’s legal fight with Epic Games, on Monday appeared unswayed by Epic’s arguments that it was suffering “irreparable” harm from Apple’s removal of Fortnite from the App Store.
“Your client created this situation,” Judge Rogers told Epic’s lawyer, Katherine Forrest. “In my view, you cannot have irreparable harm when you create the harm yourself.”
Judge Rogers later remarked that Epic could remove its direct payment option and “return to the status quo” while all entities wait for a trial date in April.
“Your client created the situation. Your client doesn’t come to this court with clean hands. Epic made a strategically and calculated move to breach, and decided to breach right before a new season. So in my view, you cannot have irreparable harm when you create a harm yourself.
“All Epic has to do is take it back to the status quo and no one suffers any harm. And you can have a trial date in the spring. Flip the switch to the way it was August 3rd and return everybody back to where they were.”
Forrest responded that the new direct payment option was part of a broader strategy by Epic to “break the chokehold that Apple has on its payment system and the prohibition that it has on competition,” adding that the calculated move to force Apple’s hand is protected by law, saying the company is unwilling to return to an anti-competitive contract.
However, Judge Rogers did appear to be leaning toward granting a temporary restraining order to prevent Apple from cutting off access to the Unreal Engine, saying that its attack on that platform appeared like “an overreach.” Forrest told the court that developers were “fleeing” the engine because of Apple’s threats.
Apple earlier this month removed Fortnite from the App Store, just hours after Epic Games debuted a new direct payment option to get around Apple’s in-app purchases rules that give the Cupertino firm a 30% cut of the action. Epic Games immediately filed a lawsuit against Apple for pulling Fortnite from the App Store.
Apple then told Epic Games it will terminate the company’s complete access to its App Store and app development tools. Epic Games said that Apple told it that on August 28, all access will be terminated.
The termination will also end Epic’s access to the development tools it uses to create software for the Unreal Engine it offers to third-party developers for use in their games. That move could have a significant impact on all of the Mac and iOS apps and games that use Epic’s Unreal Engine.