Judge awaits trial in “Fortnite” dispute in July 2021

San Francisco (AP) – In the dispute between the makers of the popular smartphone game “Fortnite”, the judge responsible is preparing for a trial in July 2021.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said in an online hearing on Monday that it would be appropriate to leave the decision to a jury. Apple and the game company Epic Games would have to agree to this proposal.

The dispute could ultimately affect how apps are sold on smartphones – and how much money platforms such as Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store are allowed to withhold from the purchase price.

The dispute arose after Epic no longer wanted to adhere to the more than a decade-old requirement that virtual items in the game on iPhones and iPads can only be offered through Apple’s in-app purchases system. Apple keeps 30 percent of the purchase price.

After the iPhone group rejected changes to the terms and conditions, the Epic developers built into the app the contractually prohibited option of being able to buy the items directly from Epic. For this purpose, a hidden function was activated in the application in August that Epic had smuggled past Apple’s app reviewers.

On the same day, Apple threw “Fortnite” with reference to the rule violation from the App Store. Epic immediately went to court accusing Apple of unfair competition. Apple claims damages in a counterclaim. Epic is still trying to get back to the App Store via an injunction.

As a compromise proposal, Rogers brought up that until a decision was made, the 30 percent should not go to Apple, but to an escrow account. The Epic lawyers were skeptical because it would not change Apple’s competitive position. The judge criticized Epic for the secret introduction of its own payment system. At the same time, she asked Apple why the levy should be 30 percent – and not 10, 15 or 20 percent.

In addition to a payment system of its choice, Epic also wants to operate a kind of own app store on the Apple platform. While other app developers are also trying to put pressure on Apple and Google as operators of the large smartphones, the Internet company is surprisingly clear against it. Google explained on Monday that all in-app purchases on its Play Store download platform must be made through its in-house payment system – which requires a 30 percent fee. This brings Google closer to Apple’s position. So far, for example, Spotify has been able to offer a detour via a different payment system in the Play Store app. App developers are given a transition period until September 30 of next year.

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