Apple Inc. was spared immediate reinstatement Epic Games Inc. Fortnite on its App Store, an early court victory for the iPhone maker in an intense battle over tolls imposed on app makers.
But Monday’s decision by US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers did not result in a total loss for Epic, as it limited the game developer’s unrealistic engine, major graphics technology, and other graphics to other apps, to give the app temporary orders. Was stopped.
As a mixed ruling Apple faces a backlash from some app developers who say its standard App Store fee is 30% and other policies are unfair and designed to benefit the iPhone manufacturer’s own services. The fight began on August 13 when Epic told customers that it would start offering a discounted direct purchase plan for items at Fortnite, and Apple cut the game for more than one billion iPhone and iPad customers. Removed the app.
Apple had no immediate comment on the ruling. Epic did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rogers said in the first day’s hearing that the case is not A. “Slam dunk” for both sides and warned that its temporary ban order would not determine the final outcome of the litigation. She set a hearing on Epic’s 28 request for a preliminary injunction.
Epic tried to put money on Fortnite purchases while accessing Apple’s platform for free, in violation of its agreements with Apple, but did not breach any contracts related to the unrealistic engine and developer tools, Rogers ruled.
By limiting the unrealistic engine, “Apple has chosen to act critically,” hurting third-party developers who use Epic’s technology platform, Rogers said.
“Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate against each other, but should not cause havoc to those who understand their dispute,” she wrote.
Epic’s Unreal Engine is a suite of software used by developers to build 3-D games and other products. Cutting Epic from Apple’s iOS and Mac developer tools would mean the gaming company could no longer distribute the Unreal Engine to other developers, Epic said in a legal filing on Sunday. Microsoft Corp., which makes Xbox, uses technology for games developed for consoles, PCs and mobile devices, and is supporting Epic in court.
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Apple has stated that Epic CEO Tim Sweeney sought a “side” deal, seeking an exclusive storefront for Fortnite, which Apple executives argued was fundamentally how the App Store works. Sweeney says she was not asking for special treatment, but the same option for Apple is available to all developers.
Of the 2.2 million apps available on the App Store, the 30% fee is billed for over 350,000. Apple reduces the fee by 15% after the subscriber has used the subscription for more than a year.
Case Epic Games Inc. V. Apple Inc., 20-cv-0540, is from the US District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).
(Updates with the judge’s reasoning in the sixth paragraph.)