Epic Games Vs. Apple: Judge Denies Fortnite's Return, But Protects Unreal Engine Devs
A judge has granted in part, and denied in part, Epic's motion for a temporary restraining order.
The Apple/Epic legal case over Fortnite continues as Season 4 approaches, with a new ruling from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in the case denying part of Epic's appeal for a temporary restraining order--but also granting another part. As reported by The Verge, Judge Rogers has denied Epic Games the rights to temporarily return Fortnite to the App Store, but has also prevented Apple from cutting off developer's Unreal Engine accounts.
Apple has been seeking to prevent Epic from returning Fortnite to the App Store, and has made movements to cut off access to Epic development tools--which would have a major impact on developers outside of Epic. However, at least for the time being, this will not be happening.
The full court order outlines the part of Epic's appeal that has been granted: "Apple and all persons in active concert or participation with Apple, are temporarily restrained from taking adverse action against Epic Games with respect to restricting, suspending or terminating any affiliate of Epic Games, such as Epic International, from Apple’s Developer Program, including as to Unreal Engine, on the basis that Epic Games enabled in-app payment processing in Fortnite through means other than IAP or on the basis of the steps Epic took to do so."
Blocking these developer tools would have had wider implications, negatively impacting not just Epic, but also developers who use their tools for mobile development.
However, when it comes to Fortnite, Rogers states that "the current predicament appears of (Epic's) own making," denying the request to have the game restored. "The Court observes that Epic Games strategically chose to breach its agreements with Apple which changed the status quo," it reads. "No equities have been identified suggesting that the Court should impose a new status quo in favor of Epic Games. By contrast, with respect to the Unreal Engine and the developer tools, the Court finds the opposite result."
As The Verge notes, this is a minor ruling in the grand scheme of things--the trial between Epic and Apple is unlikely to begin until 2021. A hearing on the injunction is expected to happen on September 28, which will determine the scope of the trial. In the meantime, it seems that Fortnite likely won't be available on your iPhone or Android device, even if you buy one off eBay.
Today’s ruling is limited in scope, meant only to preserve the status quo while the court can hear more detailed arguments concerning a preliminary injunction. That injunction would determine whether Apple can take action against Fortnite, the Unreal Engine, or various other Epic products over the course of the trial. The two parties are expected to file their arguments in the coming weeks, with a full hearing on the injunction scheduled for September 28th.
Epic has previously posted emails from Apple to try and prove that they have misrepresented their intentions, and has received support from Microsoft over their appeal. In-game, Epic has been quite vocal on the matter with their "Free Fortnite" Cup and screening of Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite.
For now, if you're playing on an Apple or Android mobile, you'll likely want to consider moving over to another device to play before the start of Chapter 2, Season 4.