U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers for the Northern District of California ruled the global consumer electronics and computer software company can’t block the game maker from accessing Unreal Engine tools, a popular game engine developed by Epic that is used to build 3-D games on Apple platforms.
At the same time, the court denied the North Carolina game maker’s motion to restore its Fortnite game to the App Store.
“Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate against each other, but their dispute should not create havoc to bystanders,” Rogers wrote in a ruling late on Monday, Reuters reported. “Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties and a third-party developer ecosystem.”
The judge added even if Epic Games violated App Store’s rules, as Apple has alleged, it did not breach any contracts related to Unreal Engine.
The David vs. Goliath battle commenced earlier this month when Epic filed suit, alleging the tech giant’s practices are anti-competitive. Epic unveiled a payment platform that was crafted to bypass the App Store’s payment system and its commission, which is as high as 30 percent. The idea was to win Apple’s approval for Epic to bypass in-app purchases and allow Fortnite game players to pay it directly.
Epic alleged Apple threatened to end its account on the App Store on Thursday Monday, August 28 to retaliate against the game maker.
“Apple intends to deny Epic access to that widely available material,” according to court documents. “Without that access, Epic cannot develop future versions of the Unreal Engine for use on iOS or macOS.”
The case is being closely watched by Apple critics, who say the fees are unfair and only serve to benefit the iPhone maker’s services. It raises the question of whether Apple is violating antitrust rules.
Rogers told attorneys for both sides she will issue a temporary order soon. In addition, a hearing has been scheduled for September 28 on a longer-term solution, Bloomberg news reported.