After a few weeks of both sides presenting their cases, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has ruled that Apple does have the right to block Fortnite from its store, but does not have the liberty to prevent Epic Games from updating the Unreal Engine. Let’s take a look at why the judge ruled this way, and what it means for the future.
Fortnite blocked from Apple App Store
The first thing to note is that this ruling was not meant to decide the overall outcome of this face-off; it's far too soon for something like that. Rather, this ruling settled the dispute about what access Epic should temporarily have in the App Store, until a final decision can be made.
As a result, this judge would not be expected to settle the disagreements between the two companies, but simply to rule on what action should be taken so that both sides can move on to make their defenses later.
In this case, Epic argued that the App Store was anti-competitive, and that they had no obligation to follow a deal made with a monopolistic company. Meanwhile, Apple argued that Epic sought special treatment, and that all developers needed to follow the same rules on their platform.
After two weeks, the judge concluded that Apple did indeed have the right to block Fortnite from the App Store because it violated Apple's Terms of Service. However, blocking Epic's access to the development platforms needed to update and maintain the Unreal Engine, an engine used by other developers and not just Epic, was "retaliatory."
Simply put, while Fortnite might violate the Terms of Service, the Unreal Engine does not.
Moving forward with Epic, Apple, and Fortnite
This case may only be a temporary solution, but it will be the rules guiding both companies, at least until a more permanent solution can be reached. However, both companies require many weeks to prepare a case. Also, no date has yet been chosen for the trial, meaning predictions estimate that it may not be held until 2021.
Fortnite players who prefer to play on iOS platforms, in the meantime, will have to find a new way to play, or put the game down until a conclusion is reached.
Judicial activism: How court rulings affect the policies that govern where and how Fortnite can be played
But a more permanent solution will rely on much more information than is currently available. Although a court might be able to rule on the current laws guiding these companies, Apple has become a political target about how much control a company should be allowed to have.
Should new legislation — which will limit the monopolistic powers of the tech giants — pass, then we can imagine that a court ruling might be more inclined to side with Epic.
Inversely, if no new legislation is made or proposed, or Congress decides not to act against these powerful companies, then the current rules guiding these interactions will almost certainly be in favor of Apple.
Politics! In MY Fortnite!?
Ultimately, a win for Fortnite and Epic will rely on the ongoing discussion about these tech giants, and will almost certainly be decided through acts of Congress more than the courts. The success or failure of Fortnite relies on changing opinions regarding acceptable business, and not wholly on its ability to present a legal case.Published 25 Aug 2020, 21:44 IST