US Judge denies Apple’s motions to limit testimony from Tim Cook in the Apple-Epic lawsuit
The latest development in the ongoing lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple, a US, Thomas Hixson has denied a request by Apple to limit the testimony from CEO Tim Cook. He has placed orders for Apple to produce Tim Cook to testify for the Apple-Epic lawsuit over the removal of Fortnite game from the App Store for violating its policies.
Apple’s iOS and macOS Chief Craig Federighi will have to join CEO Tim Cook in testifying in the company’s case against Epic Games. Apple wanted Cook and App Store head Eric Neuenshwander (who reports to Federighi) to represent the company in the case. Epic asked for Federighi instead, believing he is “better able to that speak to the reasons for Apple’s closed, integrated ecosystem.” US District Judge Thomas S. Hixson approved that request, according to court documents obtained by AppleInsider.
The court order, was spotted by iMore and Apple Insider, informs how Apple’s executive leadership may be involved in the ongoing antitrust lawsuit, which is scheduled to go to trial as early as July of next year. Apple failed to limit Tim Cook’s eventual testimony to just four hours.
The order, issued following a December 15th hearing, says Apple will not be able to limit Tim Cook’s eventual testimony to just four hours, as the company had sought. Only after Apple provides the necessary documents requested by Epic’s lawyers on the App Store’s operations can the length of testimony be determined, the order states.
Hixon also shot down a request from Apple to replace Federighi with Erik Neuenschwander, the company’s director of privacy engineering. Federighi is now listed as a document custodian, which will have an effect on which documents are entered into discovery at the request of Epic’s lawyers. It does not, however, mean he has to testify — but there is a possibility he will be ordered to do so in the future.
“The Court rules for Plaintiffs and orders Apple to make Federighi a document custodian instead of Neuenschwander. First, Plaintiffs have shown that Federighi is a higher-level decision maker whose documents are more likely to go to the heart of Apple’s business justification defense,” reads the order. “Second, if Plaintiffs have guessed wrong, and Federighi’s documents are not as relevant as Neuenschwander’s are, that hurts Plaintiffs. Assuming the requests are relevant and proportional, it is up to Plaintiffs to decide what discovery they want to take to prove their claims, and if they make bad choices, that’s their problem.”
The case is still in the preliminary stages, and much of the public back-and-forth criticism from Apple and Epic that erupted in August has quieted as both sides’ lawyers have begun preparing for the next stages of the lawsuit. An upcoming deadline for new filings is set for January 6th, 2021 with a hearing two days later.
Epic has asked Apple to produce extensive details on the App Store and how it works, including aggregate foreign sales data for apps that are also available in the US. According to a filing, it said that information was important “because it relates to the profitability of apps and the effect Apple’s monopoly has on developers’ willingness and/or ability to create apps.” There will be a hearing in January to determine whether that information is relevant enough.
Apple and Epic have been at loggerheads after the latter tried to bypass the App Store’s 30 percent cut of in-app transactions with a direct payment option in Fortnite in August. Apple pulled Fortnite from the App Store and the two sides have been engaged in litigation ever since. A trial has been set for next year. Epic is also in a battle with Google over similar issues.