In a filing Tuesday evening with the federal court in San Francisco, Epic Games and Apple agreed that they want a judge to oversee their antitrust lawsuit when it begins in July 2021.
“Epic and Apple have met and conferred, and the parties agree that Epic’s claims and Apple’s counterclaims should be tried by the Court, and not by a jury. Therefore, with Epic’s consent, Apple hereby withdraws its demand for a jury trial,” Apple wrote in a statement to the court. “The parties respectfully request that the case (including any claims and counterclaims) proceed to a bench trial on a schedule determined by the Court.”
At a hearing Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers told both parties that they needed to make a decision on whether to have a jury or bench trial by the end of the business day Tuesday. At that same hearing, Rogers encouraged both to consider having the case heard before a jury to get a proper sense of “public opinion.” Epic seemed to be steering away from that option, suggesting that the game maker would prefer a bench trial due to the complications of picking a jury in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Epic Games filed the antitrust lawsuit shortly after its battle royale game Fortnite was pulled from the Apple App Store for iOS devices. Apple pulled the game after Epic deployed a hotfix to the game that gave users a direct-to-Epic payment option. Apple says that because this helped consumers avoid using the in-app payment system, Epic violated its contract.
A ruling on the reconsideration of previous decisions of the court on Fortnite and Unreal Engine, the main focus of Monday’s hearing, is still pending. Epic is asking the court to reconsider a preliminary injunction that would restore Fortnite to iOS devices, while Apple is asking the court to revoke an injunction barring the company from removing Epic’s developer status and the Unreal Engine. Epic’s developer platform powers thousands of games including PUBG MOBILE and Peacekeeper Elite.
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