Wed, 26 Aug 2020 09:59:29
Epic Games just won a temporary restraining order against Apple — at least in part. Effective immediately, Apple cannot retaliate against the company by terminating the developer accounts used to support the company's Unreal Engine. But in the same ruling, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple would not be asked to bring Fortnite — which had been banned after Epic added an in-app payment system that broke Apple's rules — back to the App Store.
Related: Epic Games Suing Apple
“The Court finds that with respect to Epic Games’ motion as to its games, including Fortnite, Epic Games has not yet demonstrated irreparable harm. The current predicament appears of its own making,” Rogers wrote, saying that Epic “strategically chose to breach its agreements with Apple” and thereby disrupting the status quo.
However, Rogers wrote, maintaining the status quo was also the reason he decided that Apple couldn't cut off access to the Unreal Engine now. There, it was Apple who “has chosen to act severely” by influencing third-party app developers, as well as Epic's reputation, by threatening the Unreal Engine.
“Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate against each other, but their dispute should not create havoc to bystanders,” Rogers wrote.
Initially, Epic claims Apple intends to cut Epic's additional developer accounts this Friday, August 28, rendering it unable to support the Unreal Engine on iOS.
Rogers agrees with Epic that there is “potential significant damage to both the Unreal Engine platform itself, and to the gaming industry generally,” and suggested that Apple would have a hard time arguing that Epic wouldn't hurt if Unreal Engine developers left the project because Epic could no longer support it. on the Apple platform.
In a hearing on Monday, ahead of the verdict, Judge Rogers had indicated he was more affected by the real threats against the Unreal Engine. “I am not inclined to grant relief with respect to the games,” he said at the opening, “but I am inclined to grant relief with respect to the Unreal Engine.”
Today's ruling has a limited scope, intended only to maintain the status quo while courts can hear more detailed arguments about the original order. The order will determine whether Apple can take action against Fortnite, Unreal Engine, or various other Epic products during trials. The two sides are expected to present their arguments in the coming weeks, with a full hearing on the decision scheduled for September 28.
The court is yet to finalize on when it will hear arguments about the merits of Epic's claims, but it is unlikely that this year. Asked when they would be ready to start trials, Epic's advisers said they could prepare in four to six months; Apple suggests a longer discovery period, with trials starting in ten months.
8/25 9:44 AM ET: Updated to clarify the distinction between the primary Epic Games developer account on IOS, used to support Fortnite, and the account used to support the Unreal Engine SDK.
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