Initially, the court decided that Epic Games vs. Apple will be decided by a jury trial in July. Now, Ross Patent reports that the Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has scheduled the trial on May 3 but she has not ruled whether the trial will be heard in-person or via video link due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In September 2020, Judge Rogers unconvinced by Epic Games argument ruled that she would like the case to go to a jury trial and struct down the developer’s injunction then. She said that Epic’s current situation was its “own making” and it did not prove evidence that Apple has created a monopoly by controlling its App Store.
“Walled gardens have existed for decades. Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple’s doing is not much different… It’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do.”
Contrary to her previous statement, the report claims that this case will be decided via a bench trial, not a jury trial.
U.S. Judge to decide on in-person or virtual hearing of Epic Games vs. Apple trial due to COVID-19 restrictions
Although accepting the significance of an in-person trial for the landmark Epic Games vs. Apple case, Judge Rogers did not ignore the prevailing COVID-19 health crisis. At the case management conference, she said that the trial might be held via Zoom, in whole, or in parts.
Epic Games v. Apple case management conference that this is a very significant case, so the judiciary should give it the best it has to offer, which is an in-person trial. But under the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be necessary to conduct the trial, in whole or in part, via Zoom. Even if it’s fully in-person, the number of persons simultaneously present in the courtroom will be very limited.
Judge Rogers also sent a strong message to COVID-19 deniers and those who travel for other purposes that absence from the in-person trial will not be taken lightly. She detailed that all the necessary precautionary measures such as plexiglass shields and she will be fully vaccinated by May.
The judge won’t take it lightly if someone who’s a “COVID denier” on Facebook or goes on extensive travel for other purposes asks to be excused from showing up in person for the trial. She expects counsel for the parties to “investigate” the witnesses in that regard.
In addition to the case in the United States, Epic Games has also filed lawsuits against Apple in UK and Australia, in hope that a regulatory body would allow it to introduce a direct payment method on the Fortnite iOS app, without the App Store 30% commission charges.