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Fortnite to remain off App Store, Unreal Engine will have access to apps for the time being

"This is not something that is a slam dunk for Apple or for Epic Games," the US court judge said during the first ruling.

twitter-logoYasmin Ahmed | August 26, 2020 | Updated 11:05 IST
(Source: Reuters)

Highlights

  • The US court judge maintained that Fortnite will remain off the App Store unless it complies with Apple's policies.
  • The judge sided with Epic on its request to allow Unreal Engine to have access to the apps and issued a restraining order.
  • Meanwhile, Epic lawyers said that Unreal Engine is facing harm as developers are fleeing.

Apple will not be required to restore Epic Games' Fortnite on the App Store, as per the first court ruling by US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. Rogers also addressed Epic's request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking Apple from limiting the game developer's ability to provide Unreal Engine, key graphics technology, for other apps.

"This is not something that is a slam dunk for Apple or for Epic Games," Rogers said.

"The Court finds that with respect to Epic Games' motion as to its games, including Fortnite, Epic Games has not yet demonstrated irreparable harm." Rogers told Epic's counsel that they "didn't tell Apple you had code in there (for an alternative payment system)." She further said that "this was not an insignificant breach, hence the reason we are here."

"Certainly, during the period of a temporary restraining order, the status quo in this regard should be maintained," Rogers wrote.

However, Rogers also said that to maintain the status quo Apple cannot cut off access to Unreal Engine. Epic obtained a TRO against Apple shutting down the Unreal Engine account. The ruling only covers the immediate future, as the TRO needs to be replaced by a preliminary injunction. The next phase of the trial will take place in late September, BGR noted.

"Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate against each other, but their dispute should not create havoc to bystanders," Rogers wrote.

Last week, Apple removed Fortnite from App Store as the latter had brought in its own in-app payment system violating App-store policies. Epic in turn sued Apple and told the Federal Court to block Apple from cutting off Epic's developer tools and limiting its ability to provide key graphics technology to other apps.

On this front, Rogers agreed with Epic that there is "potential significant damage to both the Unreal Engine platform itself, and to the gaming industry generally." She noted that Epic will face potential harm if Unreal Engine developers abandon their projects because Epic can no longer support them on Apple platforms, The Verge reported.

Meanwhile, Epic lawyers said that given the uncertainty of Unreal Engine's position, many developers are leaving the company. "It will no longer be a usable engine. Developers are fleeing the Unreal Engine. It's happening now. It's not speculative," Epic lawyers said.

Meanwhile Apple said, "We agree with Judge Gonzalez-Rogers that the sensible way to proceed is for Epic to comply with the App Store guidelines and continue to operate while the case proceeds."

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