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Apple-Epic Battle Should Be Heard By Jury, Says Judge

The judge overseeing the legal stoush between Apple and Fortnite developer Epic Games has said the matter should be resolved by a jury.

In a virtual court hearing, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers described herself as “just a stepping stone” for the two companies, and said that the case – which she called “the frontier of antitrust law” – should go to a jury in order to stand up better on appeal.

“Whoever loses is going to take it up and say everything I did was wrong – that’s what litigators do. There’s no hard feelings, that’s the job. But I think it is important enough to understand what real people think. Do these security issues concern people or not?” she said.

Epic is suing Apple over the removal of Fortnite from the App Store after the game developer implemented a new in-app purchasing system that circumvented Apple’s own, which sees a 30 per cent commission go to the manufacturer on every purchase.

Rogers did not seem inclined to force Apple to reinstate Fortnite, saying Epic has “lied by omission” about circumventing Apple’s policies despite contractual agreements.

“You were told you couldn’t do it, and you did. There’s an old saying, a rose by any other name is still a rose.

“There are plenty of people in the public could consider you guys heroes for what you did, but it’s still not honest,” she said.

She was also not persuaded by Epic’s argument that Apple banning Fortnite on iOS has harmed its distribution, saying that, though Apple has exclusive control of the iOS App Store, iOS users have other methods to access the game and “walled gardens” have been industry practice for decades.

“Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple’s doing is not much different.

“It’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do,” she said.

Apple and Epic will hear from Rogers in writing on any decision, and would need to request a jury trial, which would likely go ahead in July next year.

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