Epic recently requested an emergency injunction against Apple, asking the courts to force them to unblock Fortnite at least until a legal decision can be made about the Epic v Apple dispute. In the latest development of the Fortnite feud, the courts sided with Apple, stating that while Apple can not block Epic’s other iOS features (Unreal Engine Dev Kit), Apple’s block on Fortnite can be upheld.
Apple blocks Fortnite, Epic requests that they stop
The injunction requested by Epic was a simple and expected step in the dispute between Epic and Apple over Fortnite. The injunction was an attempt by Epic to appeal to the U.S. courts desire for accuracy. The idea is that whether or not Epic or Apple was in the wrong had yet to be determined, and so any penalty should be postponed until after a ruling has been made.
While this argument is commonly used under many circumstances, its application here is simply part of a checklist of actions which Epic is expected to take, and not one they actually hoped would be successful. The nature of this Fortnite feud is one over a presumed breach of contract, meaning that a court would have no reason to effectively require that Apple do business with a party they believed to have broken their contract.
Furthermore, the evidence and claims regarding the breach are in such a way that there is no uncertainty about whether or not Epic did what Apple accused them of. Epic quite openly began allowing Fortnite players to bypass the App Store to buy in-game currency within the Fortnite app itself.
They instead claim that Apple had no legal authority to stop them from doing so, and to deny them access to the market in retaliation exceeds what is considered acceptable by American businesses. Effectively, Epic’s argument is not that they violated the rules of the established system, but that the established system is corrupt and illegal.
Judge rules that it’s okay to block Fortnite
As idyllic as the case for Fortnite might be, the fact of the matter is simple, Apple does not have an obligation to host Fortnite for Epic. If a future court should decide in Epic’s favor, that the system in place is in fact illegal, then policy would be changed to establish a legal system.
Until that time is met, however, then we can consider this ruling one which claims that the court’s authority is only to enforce the policies of the current system, illegal or not, and that until a determination is made about the legality of the current system no injunction can be granted which goes against that system.
If that sounds complicated, that’s because it is. Policy in the United States, as it pertains to Fortnite or anything else, is a combination of legislation, laws, accepted interpretations, legal arguments, and eventually a simple moral decision about how we as a nation want to organize ourselves.
It is a jumbled mess of a network and functions more like an ongoing discussion than a simple, unchangeable law. As a result, Fortnite is blocked because either the letter of the law doesn’t support unblocking it, the lawyers could not craft a convincing interpretation or legal argument, because the accepted norms of American business do not support it, and because a court did not want to make a shaky moralistic decision.
While this might mean that Fortnite remains inaccessible on iOS devices for now, it is not the end of this legal battle. We won’t know the final fate of Fortnite until the legal proceedings finish, and even a decision to block Fortnite then does not mean that Epic won’t negotiate a new deal with Apple later. The only worry is whether or not that will be too late for Fortnite.Published 13 Oct 2020, 01:16 IST