The current Battle of the Giants, that is to say Epic Games vs Apple, has taken a rather unexpected turn with a judge ruling both in the Fortnite developer’s favour and against it.
The ruling was in regards to a temporary restraining order against Apple. The thing is, only certain parts of the restraining order are in effect and those parts have little to do with Fortnite.
The restraining order application was for two things. The first was that Apple should reinstate Fortnite on the App Store and the other was regarding Apple’s termination of Epic Games from its Developer programme.
As regards Fortnite, well, Epic Games sort of shot itself in the foot there with its Nineteen-Eighty-Fortnite video and other marketing material that was suspiciously ready for Apple’s response to Epic Games’ move.
“Epic Games moves this Court to allow it to access Apple’s platform for free while it makes money on each purchase made on the same platform. While the Court anticipates experts will opine that Apple’s 30 percent take is anti-competitive, the Court doubts that an expert would suggest a zero percent alternative. Not even Epic Games gives away its products for free,” wrote US district judge, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.
The judge found that Epic Games was the architect of its own downfall as regards Fortnite.
In her ruling, Rogers focused on one particular aspect of Epic Games’ application – that Apple’s moves upset the status quo and have caused harm to Epic Games’ brand.
And this is where Epic Games appears to have Tim Cook et al. by the short and curlies.
“By contrast, with respect to the Unreal Engine and the developer tools, the Court finds the opposite result. In this regard, the contracts related to those applications were not breached. Apple does not persuade that it will be harmed based on any restraint on removing the developers tools. The parties’ dispute is easily cabined on the antitrust allegations with respect to the App Store,” wrote Rogers.
“Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem. In this regard, the equities do weigh against Apple,” the judge added.
So then, Apple can’t punish the Unreal Engine ecosystem simply because Epic Games is behind it, at least according to Rogers.
This means that Apple can’t restrict other folks from using the Unreal Engine simply because its creator broke Apple’s rules.
But this case is far from over. This restraining order simply preserves the status quo for third parties who had no say in Epic Games bypassing the App Store for in-app purchases.
A longer preliminary injunction is set to take place in September which would determine whether Apple can continue to keep Fortnite off of the App Store while a much longer trial gets underway.
According to The Verge, it’s likely that this trial could only get underway in 10 months.