Judge peppers both sides with questions in Epic vs Apple closing arguments I Trial
 
 
 
 
 
 

Judge peppers both sides with questions in Epic vs Apple closing arguments

/ 08:47 AM May 25, 2021

Federal Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers held unconventional closing arguments Monday in the antitrust trial between Epic Games and Apple Inc, peppering both sides’ attorneys for three hours about how far she could – and should – go to change Apple’s App Store business.

Lawyers from Apple and Epic spoke with Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers during a weeks-long antitrust trial at federal court in Oakland, California, U.S. May 24, 2021 in this courtroom sketch.

“Fortnite” game creators’ allegations that Apple misuses its control over the App Store and hurts developers.

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Last week the federal judge said that Apple’s App Store profits from game makers looked “disproportionate”, but on Monday she questioned Epic on whether there was a way to address its concerns without forcing Apple to open the iPhone to rival app stores, as Epic has proposed.

Epic v Apple's closing, judge probes of upending Apple's App Store

Apple attorney Veronica Moye and Gary Bornstien from Epic speak with Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers during a weeks-long antitrust trial at federal court in Oakland, California, U.S. May 24, 2021 in this courtroom sketch. REUTERS/Vicki Behringer

That would be a sweeping change and “courts don’t run businesses,” she said. She also noted the windfall that a change would mean for Epic, whose own efforts to start a competing paid app store were discussed during the trial.

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“Let’s be clear. Epic is here because if relief is granted, it goes from being a multi-billion-dollar company to a multi-trillion-dollar company. But it’s not doing it out of the goodness of its heart,” she said.

Epic’s lawyer Gary Bornstein stuck to the request Epic has made since filing the case last year: Force Apple to open up the iPhone to competing app stores and bar it from requiring developers to use its in-app payment system.

Gonzalez Rogers said that under Epic’s proposed changes, it is likely the company would pay Apple nothing, a fact that “concerned” her throughout the trial.

Epic v Apple's closing, judge probes of upending Apple's App Store

Fortnite game installing on Android operating system is seen in front of Apple logo in this illustration taken, May 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Epic Chief Executive Tim Sweeney, who has driven the company’s legal strategy and attended the entire trial, is “attacking the fundamental way that Apple is generating revenue,” Gonzalez Rogers said. “There’s a reasonable argument that (Apple is) using these profits to benefit the whole ecosystem.”

At times, Gonzalez Rogers questioned other issues, such as an Apple rule barring developers from using email addresses gathered from iPhone users to market ways to avoid Apple’s in-app purchase system.

“Apple’s hiding of that information in a way that is not directly reflected to the consumer seems to be anticompetitive,” she said.

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Throughout the day, Apple’s attorneys argued that Epic’s sweeping requests would make Apple just like the Android system, essentially decreasing consumer choice.

“Apple wants to keep its product differentiated,” Apple attorney Veronica Moye said. Anyone who wants third-party app stores “is free to go out and buy an Android device. The relief requested here is to force Apple to take a competing product off the market.”

To make her decision, the judge will have to wade through 4,500 pages of testimony, a process she said could take months.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; editing by Peter Henderson and Richard Pullin)

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TAGS: Apple, Apple App Store, Fortnite, lawsuit trial
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