Apple and Epic Games Spar Over at Returning Fortune in the App Store

But by directly and publicly taking on Apple, Epic – a 29-year-old privately owned company valued at $ 17.3 billion and based in Cary, NC – may be in for the fight of its life. Apple has a market capitalization of about $ 2 trillion and virtually unlimited resources. Last month, it cut its support for Epic’s Unreal Engine, a software development tool that thousands of developers use. This surprised the small company.

“We recognized the theoretical possibility beforehand, but thought it would cut the unreal engine, Tim Sweeney, founder and chief executive of Epic,” he said in an interview last week.

In court on Monday, Judge Gonzalez Rogers sharply criticized Epic’s decision last month to break Apple’s payment rules. “There are a lot of people in the public who consider you people to be the heroes that you did, but it’s still not honest,” he said.

Epic argued that the removal of Fortnite from the App Store had caused irreparable damage. But Judge Gonzales Rogers noted that Epic’s promotional campaign, including a parody video of Epic’s famous “1984” ad, and the hashtag, #FreeFortnite, likely increased good will towards the company.

Epic’s attorney, Catherine B. Forrest, a partner of Cravath, Sven & Moore, defended the campaign.

“When you’re taking on the world’s largest company and you know it’s going to retaliate, you won’t die lying on the road,” she said. “You plan very carefully.”

Apple said it would reinstate Fortnite on its App Store only when Epic complies with its rules.

Theodore J., a partner of Gibson Dunn. Butrus Jr., Apple’s lawyer, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. said, “He doesn’t need emergency help this court – he has the key to free Fortnite in his pocket.”

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