Judge orders Apple can't block Epic's Unreal Engine, Fortnite to remain banned

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2020
Epic Games on Monday won in part a temporary restraining order that bars Apple from blocking Epic Games access to key development tools, though the gaming company failed to bring Fortnite back to the App Store.

Fortnite


In a ruling handed down late Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granted in part and denied in part Epic's TRO. Following a line of thinking aired during a hearing earlier in the day, Rogers found in favor of Epic on its access to vital SDKs, but against the company's attempt to reinstate Fortnite with a newly implemented direct payment feature.

Detailing the decision in respect to Epic's games, the jurist said the company did not demonstrate irreparable harm, adding that the situation appears to be of its own making. Though the court recognizes that "virtual escapes" assist in connecting people, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, arguments from Epic fail to outweigh the "general public interest in requiring private parties to adhere to their contractual agreements or in resolving business disputes through normal, albeit expedited, proceedings."

Epic in today's hearings said it views Fortnite as more of a social platform than a simple computer game, noting the millions of players that take part in special events like in-game concerts and gatherings.

For its part, Apple argues Epic surreptitiously integrated the direct payments system to intentionally kick off the legal scrum. Epic's lawyers admitted as much today, saying the move was necessary to force Apple's hand.

Bypassing the App Store's payment mechanism is in breach of Apple's developer contract, and the tech giant took swift action last week in removing the offending Fortnite update from the online marketplace. Within hours, Epic filed a private antitrust suit against Apple and launched a prepared PR campaign that included a video parodying Apple's 1984 ad. The gaming company also ran a special tournament with digital and physical prizes to publicize its legal effort.

While Fortnite will, for now, remain off the App Store, Apple is ordered to not take action against Epic Games International's developer account. The SARL entity is responsible for licensing Epic's Unreal Engine, a software suite on which many iOS and Mac developers rely for their own apps. A ban on Epic International's account restricts the company from updating Unreal Engine and would hurt, by extension, developers licensing the software.

"Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem," Rogers writes. "In this regard, the equities do weigh against Apple."

Rogers in today's hearing said Apple's targeting of Epic International felt like a retaliatory measure. Apple's lawyers countered, saying that by maintaining separate accounts, Epic is able to play a "shell game" and shift blame for infringement whenever beneficial.

"The public context in which this injury arises differs significantly: not only has the underlying agreement not been breached, but the economy is in dire need of increasing avenues for creativity and innovation, not eliminating them," the decision reads in reference to the Unreal Engine matter. "Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate against each other, but their dispute should not create havoc to bystanders. Certainly, during the period of a temporary restraining order, the status quo in this regard should be maintained."

Today's decision comes ahead of a hearing on a motion for preliminary injunction against Apple scheduled for late September.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 63
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    Interestingly negative take on the decision. 

    Apple actually won (for now) on their main point: the judge agreed that Epic had engineered the situation themselves and that Apple says what goes on their store. You don’t sign a contract and then deliberately break it. 

    I agree that Apple shouldn’t have cut developer support for the Unreal Engine however, even if it was warranted. Harming your own customers is a dick move worthy of Epic. Apple shouldn’t be doing it. Hopefully the judge’s words have opened their eyes to this. 
    edited August 2020 9secondkox2georgie01GG1cornchipPascalxxdysamoriaseanismorris
  • Reply 2 of 63
    Sounds like a competent guy, this judge.
    BeatsCloudTalkin
  • Reply 3 of 63
    So Apple won. 

    I think their Unreal engine ban was more an “Art of The Deal” type of thing. Overshoot the matter so that you get the actual main thing you want. 

    And it worked. 

    Epic got stupid and greedy and ended up getting nothing but an opportunity to put on a popcorn show. 

    All is well. 
    magman1979BeatsGabyaderutterpscooter63leavingthebiggGG1ronnjahbladejony0
  • Reply 4 of 63
    red oakred oak Posts: 886member
    Epic is now out of the store until at least the end of Sept when the courts take it up again

    We’ll, this whole thing has not gone well for Epic.  Really backed themselves into a corner.   Decimating their business in the process 
    magman1979BeatsaderutterGG1ronndonjuanjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 63
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,502member
    hucom2000 said:
    Sounds like a competent guy, this judge.

    Yes, she sure is indeed.
    magman1979pichaelgatorguyPezapjwilkinBiggieTallKITAequality72521pscooter63jcs2305
  • Reply 6 of 63
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,525member
    Next fines for violating rules and attacking Apple's brand image etc. etc.
    qwerty52ronndonjuanGilliam_Bateswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 63
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,728member
    I'm not sure what Epic's M.O. was on this... I supposed when the CEO is a billionaire, whatever this court case costed comes down to a rounding error on his balance sheet.

    Rich people issues.  I'm glad Epic got a new orifice torn open by the judge.  Epic will now be closely watched by Apple in the future.  If it so much as farts in the wrong direction, I hope Apple is able to do more than just ban Fortnite.  

    Scum.
    qwerty52pscooter63macplusplusGG1ronnjahbladeGilliam_Batesjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 63
    qwerty52qwerty52 Posts: 311member
    Epic thought, that they were ruling the real world.  But the judge’s decision puts them back to the reality.
    And the reality is, that Epic has Unreal Wishes in their Unreal World.
    jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 63
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,273member
    Beats said:
    Next fines for violating rules and attacking Apple's brand image etc. etc.
    That is not and never going to happen. 
    KITAfastasleep
  • Reply 10 of 63
    qwerty52qwerty52 Posts: 311member
    Beats said:
    Next fines for violating rules and attacking Apple's brand image etc. etc.
    That is not and never going to happen. 

    Why not? If Apple claims a brand damages as consequence of Epic’s unfairly media campaign, every thing is possible.
    uraharaPezaaderutterGilliam_Bateswatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 63
    m05m05 Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    So Apple won. 

    I think their Unreal engine ban was more an “Art of The Deal” type of thing. Overshoot the matter so that you get the actual main thing you want. 

    And it worked. 

    Epic got stupid and greedy and ended up getting nothing but an opportunity to put on a popcorn show. 

    All is well. 
    You mix things up here. It was the restraining order, not the main lawsuit.
    Epic asked the court to stop Apple from closing their access to the Apple developer tools, and the court agreed. So Epic (partially) won on the main point of this restraining order. (Partially because they would be able to close their developer account, just not remove access to the developer tools)
    PezaKITAFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 12 of 63
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    m05 said:
    So Apple won. 

    I think their Unreal engine ban was more an “Art of The Deal” type of thing. Overshoot the matter so that you get the actual main thing you want. 

    And it worked. 

    Epic got stupid and greedy and ended up getting nothing but an opportunity to put on a popcorn show. 

    All is well. 
    You mix things up here. It was the restraining order, not the main lawsuit.
    Epic asked the court to stop Apple from closing their access to the Apple developer tools, and the court agreed. So Epic (partially) won on the main point of this restraining order. (Partially because they would be able to close their developer account, just not remove access to the developer tools)
    Actually, Epic mostly lost. 

    What they wanted to do was force Apple to accept Fortnite with the code for doing their own payments. The judge didn’t accept this, so they can either stay out of the App Store or restore the game and use the IAP as stated in the contract. 

    And just because they’re allowed to use the development tools to develop the Unreal engine, that doesn’t mean that Apple has to accept any app that uses it. 
    Handy, in case Epic tries to hide the payment system in the engine itself. 
    qwerty52beowulfschmidtaderutterericthehalfbeecornchipronnpscooter63jahbladeFileMakerFellerjony0
  • Reply 13 of 63
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member

    sflocal said:
    I'm not sure what Epic's M.O. was on this... I supposed when the CEO is a billionaire, whatever this court case costed comes down to a rounding error on his balance sheet.

    Rich people issues.  I'm glad Epic got a new orifice torn open by the judge.  Epic will now be closely watched by Apple in the future.  If it so much as farts in the wrong direction, I hope Apple is able to do more than just ban Fortnite.  

    Scum.
    I’m glad Apple stuck to its guns on this. Now watch for the Whitney-ass announcements that Epic will put out when they’re forced to run their payments through Apple.  Of course, Epic will forget to mention that they brought all this on themselves. 
    edited August 2020 jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 63
    PezaPeza Posts: 195member
    The most sensible outcome, don’t let Apple be a bully and damage all other developers and gamers with its tactics. 
  • Reply 15 of 63
    Epic needs to take a long look at the Psystar ruling that Apple already won in court. Their "monopoly on iOS" lawsuit is going nowhere. 
    aderutterchiaronncornchipdonjuanGilliam_Batesjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 63
    Peza said:
    The most sensible outcome, don’t let Apple be a bully and damage all other developers and gamers with its tactics. 

    What Apple does is not a tactic but part of Apple’s business model.
    What Epic does is a tactic, and because they have changed unfairly their tactic, are now out of AppStore 
    GG1ronnSpamSandwichcornchipmwhitewatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 63
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,260member
    According to Reuters, Apple got blasted for its App Store policies in "terse" exchanges between the judge and Apple's lawyer:

    "During a terse exchange with Apple counsel Richard Doren at a hearing on Monday, the judge said she saw “no competition” to Apple’s App Store on the iPhone.

    “The question is, without competition, where does the 30% (App Store commission) come from? Why isn’t it 10? 20? How is the consumer benefiting?” she asked.

    Doren replied that consumers had choices when deciding to buy an Android device or an iPhone.

    “The competition is in the foremarket,” he said, reiterating an argument that has been central to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook’s defense during Congressional antitrust hearings.

    Gonzalez Rogers replied that there was “plenty of economic theory” to show that switching brands imposed costs on consumers.

    She at one point muted Doren in the virtual proceedings."


    Essentially the judge called Bull on what she sees as Apple's bullshit contention that the iPhone has not created a monopolistic market that it exploits with the App Store.
    My personal thoughts on it are that Apple needs to go beyond (or drop) its claim that it has not created any sort of monopoly and iPhone users are free to go over to Android and claim (correctly) that the Apple Store is an integral part of what makes the iPhone private, secure and stable.
    mpw_amhersttundraboyrogifan_newelijahgjony0gatorguy
  • Reply 18 of 63
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,715member
    Seems like the most reasonable judgement, and shuts up Microsoft

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Unreal_Engine_games

    There aren't that many iOS games in here, and none that I want to play, but it won't do Apple any favours to cause collateral damage to a bunch of other developers.
  • Reply 19 of 63
    Surprisingly fair and reasonable.

    Now there's a line in the sand between different entities, and that should keep things focused on the most relevant parts of what's being fought about; so it should keep Epic from pushing things further in a childish way. If Epic for instance would start creating new entities and moving assets "on paper" between them, just to get around Apple banning them, that could be seen as contempt of court; so their childishness would then probably serious backfire on them.

    Edit: spelling.
    edited August 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 63
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,005member
    qwerty52 said:
    Beats said:
    Next fines for violating rules and attacking Apple's brand image etc. etc.
    That is not and never going to happen. 

    Why not? If Apple claims a brand damages as consequence of Epic’s unfairly media campaign, every thing is possible.
    No. Not possible. 
    elijahg
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