The presiding judge, Thomas Hixson, outlined the rules surrounding Tim Cook’s testimony in his order, prohibiting the four-hour limit Apple had planned to impose. He also confirmed that software engineering chief Craig Federighi will have to take part in the case. Apple had previously tried to replace him with Erik Neuenschwander, their director of privacy engineering.
Apple will be required to produce all the necessary documentation previously requested by Epic Games before the length of Cook’s testimony can be established. These documents show the full extent of the App Store’s operations, which the judge ruled was important to the case.
The documents requested by Epic will be effected by Federighi’s assignment as document custodian, a role which does not initially require him to give testimony. The Verge reports that he may be required to do so in the future, however.
“The Court rules for Plaintiffs and orders Apple to make Federighi a document custodian instead of Neuenschwander,” reads the order. “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.”
It continues: “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 next deadline for filings is January 6, 2021, with a hearing taking place on January 8.
Apple have previously accused Epic Games of using the lawsuit as an opportunity to drive sales for Fortnite, and claimed that Epic had “fired the first shot in this dispute”.
The original countersuit, which was filed on September 8 2020, saw Apple accuse Epic Games of seeking special treatment from the App Store’s rules, and thereafter resorting to “self-help and subterfuge” when the ‘special deal’ was rejected by the tech giant. This centred around the fact that Epic had introduced an in-game payment method to Fortnite that bypassed the App Store’s 30 per cent fee. Apple claimed this was “little more than theft”.