Apple denied pretrial sanctions against Epic Games over witness disclosure

Fortnite Season 6 Hero
Fortnite Season 6 Hero (Image credit: Epic Games)

What you need to know

  • Apple has had a motion for pretrial sanctions against Epic Games denied by a court.
  • Apple claimed that Epic had violated rules in calling individual witnesses from Facebook and Microsoft without giving their names.
  • The court agreed with Epic that no rule violation had occurred.

Apple has been denied a pretrial motion for sanctions against Epic Games after a court found the Fortnite developer had not broken any rules regarding the calling of witnesses.

An order denying Apple's motion for pretrial sanctions published Tuesday and reviewed by iMore reads:

Before the Court is defendant and counterclaimant Apple Inc.'s motion for pretrial sanctions against plaintiff and counter-defendant Epic Games, Inc. (Dkt. No. 419.) Epic Games filed an opposition to the motion on an expedited schedule. (Dkt. No. 431.)1 Having considered the parties' briefing and the record in this matter, Apple's motion for pretrial sanctions is DENIED. The Court expedites the issuance of this Order due to the impending bench trial commencing May 3, 2021, and provides only a brief summary of the parties' positions.

Apple wanted three witnesses for Epic Games to be excluded from the trial, namely Vivek Sharma of Facebook Inc., Lori Wright of Microsoft Corporation, and Benjamin Simon of Yoga Buddhi Co. That's because Apple believes that Epic Games violated a rule by disclosing these witnesses as simply their employer entities rather than their specific names. Apple claims an existing agreement between parties allowing this only pertained to witnesses that had "not already been deposed" rather than witnesses yet to be disclosed. More seriously, Apple accused Epic Games of "coordinating with these third party witnesses in an effort to obstruct Apple from obtaining additional documents for these specific identified individuals."

Epic Games "categorically" denied the latter assertion, and said that the names of the witnesses were disclosed "when it first learned of and confirmed their identities", further noting that even if it had fallen foul of any rules that the correct sanction would not be to exclude these witnesses from the trial but to have them deposed by Apple, which is already scheduled. Epic said the motion was a ploy to stop the individuals giving "highly relevant evidence."

The court concluded no rule breach had taken place and that the witnesses were properly disclosed. Despite this, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers did leave a warning for both parties:

All of the above said, however, the Court reiterates the following to the parties as well as the above third-party witnesses: the Court has repeatedly instructed that trial is not an opportunity for surprises. Instead, it is an opportunity for the Court to measuredly consider and weigh the relevant evidence to reach a final determination. This dispute presents no exception.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9