A judge ruled Friday that Apple doesn’t have to allow Fortnite back in the App Store while its developer, Epic Games, sues the tech giant—an initial victory for Apple as the high-stakes legal battle over the App Store unfolds.
Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store in August after Epic Games intentionally circumvented Apple’s mandatory 30% fee, claiming in a lawsuit that Apple’s App Store policies are anticompetitive.
U.S. District Judge Yvonnne Gonzalez Rogers wasn’t convinced that Fortnite should be allowed on the App Store while it flouts Apple’s rules. “Epic Games cannot simply exclaim ‘monopoly’ to rewrite agreements giving itself unilateral benefit,” she said.
Epic Games did notch a victory, though, because the judge also ruled that Apple can’t ban Unreal Engine, which is also owned by Epic Games.
“We’re grateful the court recognized that Epic’s actions were not in the best interests of its own customers and that any problems they may have encountered were of their own making when they breached their agreement,” Apple said in a statement.
In a statement, an Epic spokesperson said the company is “grateful that Apple will continue to be barred from retaliating against Unreal Engine and our game development customers as the litigation continues. We will continue to develop for iOS and Mac under the court’s protection and we will pursue all avenues to end Apple’s anti-competitive behavior.”
“Given the novelty and the magnitude of the issues, as well as the debate in both the academic community and society at large, the Court is unwilling to tilt the playing field in favor of one party or the other with an early ruling of likelihood of success on the merit.” the ruling said.
Epic’s lawsuit against Apple has created a movement of tech companies against Apple. In addition to Epic, Spotify, Match Group, Tile and others formed a non-profit to collectively pressure Apple into changing its policies around in-app payments. They argue Apple’s 30% cut is anti-competitive because it forces developers to use Apple’s payments processing system, while also forcing companies to increase prices to cover the cost of the fee.
Read the full decision here.