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Sep 28, 2020

Judge in Apple fight with Epic suggests a jury decide the case

An Apple Inc. logo is displayed outside the company's store at Yorkdale mall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. Statistics Canada (STCA) is scheduled to release consumer price index data on September 18. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

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The federal judge overseeing Epic Games Inc.’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple Inc. said a jury trial might be a better option to resolve the case.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California did not order a jury trial in the matter but said at a hearing Monday that jurors might be better-equipped to evaluate the major issues. These include Apple’s security concerns and developers’ complaints about Apple’s tight control over payments made through its App Store, which generate commissions for the tech giant.

Rogers also told the attorneys for Apple and Epic that an appeals court would be much more likely to overturn a verdict delivered by her, as opposed to one issued by a jury.

The judge said on Monday she would issue a written ruling on Epic’s request for an injunction forcing Apple to put its “Fortnite” game back in the app store with its own in-house payment option. Apple removed the game after Epic installed and activated a “hotfix” that lets players pay for in-game purchases directly to Epic.

Last month, the judge rebuffed Epic’s request for a short-term ruling to return “Fortnite” to the app store. The judge at that time said Epic couldn’t argue that it was irreparably harmed by Apple’s removal of the game because Epic knew it was breaking the rules when it smuggled the “hotfix” into the game, making its harm self-inflicted.

Katherine Forrest, an attorney for Epic, told the judge that if she didn’t grant the injunction, they’d need a trial as soon as possible.