Judge may stop Apple from blocking Epic's access to developer tools

Free Fortnite
Free Fortnite (Image credit: Epic Games)

Update, August 24 (7:30 pm ET): Written order on the temporary restraining order to come "shortly"

What you need to know

  • US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers gave partial hope to Epic in Monday's hearing.
  • The judge said she was inclined to prevent Apple from blocking access to developer tools.
  • She did not, however, seem to agree with Epic's request to allow Fortnite back on the App Store.

Epic may have won over the judge in the Epic v. Apple court case - partially.

In a tweet by Apple analyst and leaker Mark Gurman, United States District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers says that she was "inclined" to stop Apple from blocking Epic's access to developer tools in order to develop and distribute Unreal Engine. She is not, however, inclined to force Apple to allow Fortnite on the App Store while the company bypasses Apple's in-app purchase requirements.

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Sarah Jeong, who is live tweeting the hearing, showed that the judge blames Epic for creating the mess that it is now in.

"Your client created this situation. Your client does not come to this action with clean hands ..... in my view, you cannot have irreparable harm when you create the harm yourself."

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She went further to almost recommend that, instead of a temporary restraining order, that Epic make the changes that Apple asked of it so that Fortnite could return to the App Store while the legal battle was decided in April of 2021.

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Update, August 24 (7:30 pm ET) — Written order on the temporary restraining order to come "shortly"

US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers adjourned the hearing, saying that a written order on the temporary restraining order will be coming "shortly." According to the remarks at the hearing, it appears that an order will be granted that will not allow Apple to block developer tool access for Unreal Engine.

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Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

  • Unless I’ve misinterpreted Apple’s previous statements, if Epic returns Fortnite to the way it was, the Epic developer accounts (and thus Unreal Engine) wouldn’t be impacted. So it’s sounding like the judge is saying “I’ll let Epic shoot themselves in the foot on Fortnite if they want to, but I won’t let them or Apple (through their contractual obligations to shut down the developer accounts for non-compliance) cause harm to Unreal Engine development/support.”
  • Pretty much it seems. The judge feels that, while Fortnite being absent from the App Store is Epic’s fault and they should follow Apple’s rules if it wants the game on the store while the trial is going on, blocking developer access for Unreal Engine is retaliatory.
  • As said before, there is nothing wrong legally with Apple milking developers. It's up to developers to support alternative platforms. They did not, because they felt Apple is the best platform. So stop complaining now. When you concentrate on monopoly, monopoly is what you get. I can't feel sorry either for Apple, Epic or Fortnite users in this case. It's up to end-users to make the verdict. If they are willing to. If not, then there is no problem. Everyone had their chance already.