Temporary restraining order will protect Unreal Engine on Apple platforms

Epic Games and Apple traded blows during a court hearing on Monday, and neither party emerging entirely unscathed.

Epic Games and Apple traded blows during a court hearing on Monday, and neither party emerging entirely unscathed. 

The hearing saw U.S. District Court Judge approve Epic's request for a temporary restraining order against Apple that will allow it to continue accessing Apple's development SDK -- essentially securing the short term future of Unreal Engine titles on iOS and Mac devices.

As reported by The Verge, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said Apple's decision to revoke Epic's access to its iOS and Mac development toolkit was a step too far, and one that could impact the interests of third-party developers.

Rogers, however, sided with Apple over the removal of Fortnite, and said the company won't be required to reinstate the title on the App Store. She indicated its removal -- which was the result of Epic adding an unsanctioned payment method to the iOS version of the game -- is a problem of Epic's own making. 

"The Court finds that with respect to Epic Games' motion as to its games, including Fortnite, Epic Games has not yet demonstrated irreparable harm. The current predicament appears of its own making. Epic Games remains free to maintain its agreements with Apple in breach status as this litigation continues," reads the order, posted on Scribd

"By contrast, Epic Games has made a preliminary showing of irreparable harm as to Apple's actions related to the revocation of the developer tools (SDKs). For now, Epic International appears to have separate developer program license agreements with Apple and those agreements have not been breached.  

"Moreover, Apple is hard-pressed to dispute that even if Epic Games succeed on the merits, it could be too late to save all the projects by third-party developers relying on the engine that were shelved while support was unavailable.

"The Court observes that Epic Games strategically chose to breach its agreements with Apple which changed the status quo. No equities have been identified suggesting that the Court should impose a new status quo in favor of Epic Games. By contrast, with respect to the Unreal Engine and the developer tools, the Court finds the opposite result."

This is just the first step in a long process. Both Epic and Apple are due to file their arguments relating to a preliminary injunction by the end of September. That injunction would ultimately dictate what actions could be taken over the course of a trial, which is likely to begin next year. 

Anybody who's understandably missed a beat over the past few weeks can take a look at the increasingly complicated back and forth between Apple and Epic in our refresher below:

Epic Games updated Fortnite to include a payment method that bypassed the usual platform fees taken out of in-app purchases. (Details here)

Apple fired back that afternoon by pulling Fornite from the App Store, claiming the payment scheme and update violated its App Store Guidelines. (Details here)

Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple arguing its App Store policies were unlawful and anti-competitive. (Details here.)

Apple informed Epic that its access to developer tools would end on August 28, jeopardizing Epic’s ability to run and maintain Unreal Engine on Apple platforms and for MacOS and iOS development. (Details here)

Epic responded, asking the court for an injunction to protect it from what it says is retaliation from Apple: “Not content simply to remove Fortnite from the App Store, Apple is attacking Epic’s entire business in unrelated areas.” (Details here)

Epic also announced an in-game Fortnite tournament themed around its grievances with Apple, and encouraged its userbase to voice their complaints to Apple via social media. (Details here)

Microsoft backs Epic in its legal dispute with Apple, specifically taking issue with Apple's decision to revoke Epic's access to its development SDK. (Details here)

A U.S. District Court Judge grants Epic a temporary restraining order against Apple that will preserve the company's access to the Apple SDK - effectively securing the short term future of Unreal Engine on Apple platforms.  

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