A judge has rendered a split decision in the Apple/Epic court case, handing both sides an early victory.
Things came to a head when Epic tried to bypass Google and Apple’s in-app purchasing rules and both companies responded by removing Fortnite from their app stores. It seemed evident that Epic had pushed the issue in an effort to get banned from the app stores and orchestrate a showdown in court. Apple responded by threatening to shut down Epic’s developer accounts, which would effectively eliminate its ability to distribute its Unreal Engine to other developers.
Epic has been trying to get a temporary injection that would force Apple to reinstate Fornite and prevent it from terminating the developer accounts. In her initial ruling, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers refused to reinstate Fornite, saying the company chose to break its agreements with Apple, instead of abiding by them while challenging Apple in court.
It was this action that led many to believe Epic intentionally orchestrated the ban, since the company stood to lose nothing by leaving the status quo intact while pursuing legal action. Had Epic won, any judge would have retroactively awarded damages. Instead of waiting for that, however, Epic chose a course of action it knew would lead to a ban. That action did not seem to sit well with Judge Rogers.
“In my view you cannot have irreparable harm when you create a harm yourself,” she said in her ruling Monday, according to Courthouse News Service.
At the same time, however, she did grant a temporary injection against Apple removing Epic’s developer accounts. As Rogers pointed out, while Epic may have breached its contract with Apple in regard to Fortnite, it has not done so in regard to its Unreal Engine. As a result, it’s not fair to punish third-party developers by cutting off their access to one of the most popular gaming engines available.
“Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate against each other, but their dispute should not create havoc to bystanders,” she wrote.
It remains to be seen how Judge Rogers will rule on the case as a whole, but nothing less than the future of Apple’s App Store is at stake.