Apple and Epic Games do not want to have a jury trial in their ongoing legal dispute over Fortnite and Apple’s App Store policies, according to a filing submitted to the Northern California court handling the case today.
The two companies said they have met and have agreed that both Epic’s claims and Apple’s counterclaims should be tried by the court with a bench trial at a date to be determined.
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 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 38(d). The parties respectfully request that the case (including any claims and counterclaims) proceed to a bench trial on a schedule determined by the Court.
In a counterclaim against Epic Games, Apple had originally asked for a trial by jury, but given that the judge overseeing the court told the two companies that she does not want to try two separate cases, Apple has withdrawn the request.
There was a preliminary injunction hearing between Epic Games and Apple earlier this week, and during that hearing, the judge suggested that a jury trial might be appropriate to ensure a final judgement that’s better able to stand up to appeal, but Apple and Epic Games have declined.
During the preliminary hearing, the judge was hard on Epic Games, criticizing the company for the way that it initiated the lawsuit. Epic Games in August added a direct payment option in popular iOS game Fortnite, breaking Apple’s App Store rules as the payment option skirted in-app purchases.
Apple then pulled the app from the App Store, and Epic Games filed a pre-prepared lawsuit against Apple, leading to a legal dispute that could take years to resolve. At the current time, Fortnite is not available on Apple devices and Epic’s developer account has been terminated.
During Monday’s hearing, the judge said that Epic was “not forthright” and had made a “calculated decision” to defy Apple’s App Store rules. “There are people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you did, but it’s not honest,” she said.
With Apple and Epic declining a jury trial, the case could be heard sometime in July 2021, with a specific date set to be determined by the court.