A preliminary injunction hearing in the ongoing Apple/Epic Games legal battle was held earlier today, and the presiding judge indicated the case should be decided as a jury trial.
Lawyers for both Apple and Epic Games made arguments similar to those made in the hearing for the temporary restraining order. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who is overseeing the case, declined to order Apple to allow Fortnite back into the store at that time.
Although Epic Games once again claimed Apple’s App Store is a monopoly and charges excessive fees, Judge Gonzales Rogers pointed out that the 30% cut Apple takes off the top is the same “industry rate” charged by PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Google, and others.
There doesn’t seem to be evidence supporting what you’re saying,” Gonzales Rogers said.
When Epic legal eagles attempted to convince the judge that consoles are “different” because the hardware is sold at a loss, she replied, “There doesn’t seem to be evidence supporting what you’re saying.”
Epic is looking to create its own store to distribute apps on iOS but says Apple’s “anticompetitive behavior” prevents it from doing so. Apple’s lawyers said Epic’s attempt to do so was an indictment of Apple’s “entire business model” which is focused on the “safety, security, and privacy of its users.”
Judge Gonzales Rogers then asked Epic Games lawyers to tell her exactly when Apple became a monopoly, considering that its App Store rules have been the same since the launch of the store. Epic’s answer was that the App Store was a monopoly when Fortnite came to the iOS platform in 2018.
Gonzales Rogers also said Epic made a “calculated decision” to defy App Store rules, and that the court doesn’t provide injunctions for contractual disputes.
One possible way Fortnite could make it back into the App Store while the legal spat is being decided is for Epic to put the 30% it would be paying to Apple into an escrow account, which would then be paid out when the battle has been decided. However, it isn’t clear if both sides would agree to that.
As noted by CNET, Judge Gonzalez Rogers recommended that Apple and Epic Games consider a trial by jury. Apple and Epic will need to request the jury trial, however. No matter which way the trial is to be decided, the full case is expected to be heard in July 2021.