Judge Rules Apple Can’t Go After Epic’s Unreal Engine (Yet)
It hasn’t even been two weeks since Epic launched a legal volley at Apple and Google after daring them to remove Fortnite from their respective app stores. And yet, the case already has several twists and turns. The first of what will surely be many rulings in the cases has good news and bad news for Epic. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers says Apple can’t retaliate against the company’s Unreal Engine for the time being, but Fortnite is fair game.
The battle began on August 13th when Epic updated Fortnite Mobile with a direct payment option, which circumvented the 30 percent cut that both Apple and Google take from sales on their platforms. Naturally, Apple and Google pulled Fortnite from their stores. What followed was a carefully choreographed response from Epic featuring snarky anti-Apple videos, Twitter hashtags, and a pair of lawsuits.
Apple threatened to open another front in the war just a few days later, saying it would cut off Epic’s access to developer tools completely. That would have made it all but impossible to maintain the company’s Unreal Engine, which is a core technology in many games on both iOS and macOS. Epic contended that this action would push developers to abandon Unreal for other engines, and it asked for an injunction to stop Apple’s proposed action.
Epic has now won a temporary restraining order that addresses that specific concern. Judge Rogers noted that Epic made a conscious decision to “disturb the status quo” when it breached its agreement with Apple. Thus, Apple was within its rights to boot Fortnite from the App Store, and she was not inclined to intervene. However, Rogers ruled that Apple “has chosen to act severely” in threatening the Unreal Engine. The temporary injunction prevents Apple from cutting off Epic’s access to dev tools.
The court will hear additional arguments on August 28th, and Apple will surely make the case that it should be allowed to take action against Fortnite, the Unreal Engine, and other Epic products. As for Epic’s claims against Apple, the court has yet to settle on a date. Epic wants to move forward within 4-6 months — the longer Fornite is unavailable, the more money it loses. Plus, Epic had time to prepare its legal actions in advance. Apple, however, thinks 10 months is a more reasonable amount of time to ready its case. In either case, iOS users will have to make do without Fortnite for a good long while.
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