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Epic vs Apple trial set for May as judge weighs pandemic concerns with significance of the case

Over the last year, Epic Games has filed antitrust lawsuits against Apple in a variety of countries. Now the first lawsuit it filed in the US has been scheduled to go to trial in May. Notably, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers says “this is a very significant case, so the judiciary should give it the best it has to offer, which is an in-person trial.” However, that could change depending on “the infection numbers.”

Reported by Foss Patents, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California noted that based on how the pandemic looks come May 3, part or all of the Epic vs Apple trial may also be done via video conference. It will be a bench trial – no jury.

But she was also clear that witnesses will be vetted to make sure no one is using COVID as an excuse to avoid going to the trial in person.

Epic Games filed this lawsuit in the US back in August, just hours after it was pulled from Apple’s App Store for including a direct payment option in its Fortnite game.

Since then, we’ve seen a huge effort from Epic to force Apple to allow third-party app stores inside apps and take direct payment – to avoid paying the commission. That’s included a “Free Fortnite” campaign and being a founding member of the Coalition for App Fairness.

Epic has also filed the same lawsuit in Australia and Europe. However, just last week a UK judge ruled against Epic’s lawsuit there saying it doesn’t meet the court’s jurisdiction.

Last month, we learned that a judge ruled Apple CEO Tim Cook will have to sit for a 7-hour deposition in the case.

The exact length of the trial depends on the number of trial exhibits etc. the parties plan to present. Based on the potential durations the judge tossed out, it sounded like the length of the trial will most likely be somewhere between three and five weeks. At some point she said she’d give three weeks, but that was apparently just a hypothetical example.

Foss Patents notes that the public should be able to tune into the Epic vs Apple trial on May 3 via a YouTube audio stream.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen multiple states file legislation to force Apple to allow what Epic is after. The first bill that was introduced in North Dakota has already failed, but Minnesota and Arizona lawmakers have yet to vote on the proposals.

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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.