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Judge Backs Apple, Keeping Fortnite Off App Store Until After Trial

By Danny Vena – Oct 10, 2020 at 6:13PM

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However, it wasn't a total win for the iPhone maker.

A federal judge sided with Apple (AAPL -1.15%) Friday, handing the company a win in its ongoing battle against Fortnite creator Epic Games. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California said that Apple could continue to ban Fortnite from the App Store because Epic violated the terms of its contract with Apple. 

The judge noted that there were venues for companies to resolve contract disputes, citing a "significant public interest" in ensuring that parties abided by the terms of their agreements.

A gavel near a laptop with piles of 100 dollar bills and a scale nearby.

Image source: Getty Images.

It was only a partial victory for the iPhone maker, however, as the court forbade Apple from banning the Unreal Engine, Epic's popular tool used by developers as a framework for creating games. Rogers said there was "potential significant damage to both developers and gamers" if the judge allowed the move.

This is the latest salvo in an ongoing feud between Apple and Epic. In August, Epic sought to bypass both Apple and Alphabet's (GOOGL -1.04%) (GOOG -1.05%) Google store by directing users toward its own payment service, effectively bypassing the companies and keeping them from getting their 30% cut, a clear violation of the terms of its agreement with the tech giants.

Apple handed Epic an olive branch, offering to reinstate Fortnite if the company agreed to comply by the terms of the contract. The judge offered a further compromise, saying that Apple's fees from the sale of Fortnite could be placed in escrow until the conclusion of the trial, but Epic balked, saying it didn't want to be forced to comply with an unlawful contract.

In citing her decision, Rogers responded, "I didn't buy that argument before. I'm not particularly impressed with it now."

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Danny Vena owns shares of Alphabet (A shares) and Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), and Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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