A federal judge Friday (Oct.9) denied a request by Epic Games to make Apple reinstate Epic’s Fortnite game on its App Store before a lawsuit Epic brought against Apple is resolved at trial, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
Epic sued Apple in August, accusing the technology giant of violating laws that restrict anti-competitive behavior. The suit, filed in federal court for the Northern District of California, alleges Apple has harmed both game-makers and payment processors and asks the court to compel Apple to grant easier access to the App Store.
Apple denied the allegations.
With the case grinding its way toward a scheduled May 2021 trial, Epic in August asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction making Apple open the App Store to Fortnite on a temporary basis. To prevail, Epic had to show both that it would suffer irreparable harm without an injunction and that it stood a good chance of prevailing at trial.
Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers denying Epic’s request for immediate access to the app store means Epic will lose the valuable channel to customers until Apple decides to admit Fornite to the store or loses at trial.
“Given the novelty and the magnitude of the issues, as well as the debate in both the academic community and society at large, the Court is unwilling to tilt the playing field in favor of one party or the other with an early ruling of likelihood of success on the merits,” Rogers wrote.
She also noted that Epic chose to breach its agreement with Apple with the result that Apple excluded Fortnite from the App Store.
WSJ quoted David Hoppe, a technology and media lawyer at Gamma Law in San Francisco who is not involved in the case, as having said the ruling hurts Epic.
“The judge is indicating skepticism over Epic’s narrow definition of the relevant market,” he said, according to WSJ, and if the App Store “isn’t the relevant market, then Apple is not a monopolist.”
In a related ruling Friday, Rogers ordered that Apple continue to give Epic access to the development tools software engineers use to make games such as Fortnite, WSJ reported.