A judge presiding over preparatory hearings in the Apple vs. Epic Games court case has ruled that Apple CEO Tim Cook must attend a seven-hour long deposition to testify about how the company views App Store competition, reports Gizmodo.
U.S. magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixon reportedly settled on the seven-hour deposition after Epic Games proposed eight hours to depose Cook and Apple requested four. Apple’s concession came after its lawyers attempted to cite the “apex doctrine,” which prevents a high-level corporate employee from being deposed.
According to Judge Thomas S. Hixon, however, “this dispute is less than meets the eye.” Hixon writes that the apex doctrine “limits the length of a deposition, rather than barring it altogether,” and that given the circumstances, the dispute is a question of whether Cook should be deposed for “four hours, eight hours, or some length of time in between.” Hence, Hixon’s ruling that Cook should be deposed for seven hours.
Judge Hixon also denied Apple’s request to subpoena internal documents related to Epic Games’ relationship with Samsung, which Apple alleged would prove that its App Store’s practices are largely consistent with other industry players.
In other words, if Apple can prove that Samsung made similar decisions in how it distributes Epic Games’ Fortnite, then it could argue that the company’s antitrust argument is unconvincing.
However, Hixon called the request “a quirky deep dive” into arrangements between the two companies, which “cannot serve as a stand-in for some larger category of market participants.”
In another development, Hixon ordered Apple to make “best efforts” to produce internal payment-processing documents, after it criticized the company as “frustrating and unsatisfactory” in its attempts to stall their release to Epic.
According to Law360, Apple counsel representatives Jay Srinivasan of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher argued that the large size of the company meant the documents would take time to produce, and claimed that Epic Games has not prioritized its requests.
“You’re not really offering a solution to this problem,” Judge Hixson told Srinivasan. “You’re just saying, ‘No, we can’t do it.’ That feels frustrating and unsatisfactory to me.”
Epic Games in August added a Fortnite update that allowed customers to purchase in-game currency directly from Epic Games, skirting Apple’s in-app purchases. That is against Apple’s rules, and the move led Apple to pull the app from the App Store.
After that, Epic Games filed a planned lawsuit against Apple, and Apple ultimately terminated Epic Games’ developer account. Fortnite has not been available on iOS devices since August, and as Epic refuses to comply with the App Store rules, there is no path for it to return to the App Store.
The trial between Epic Games and Apple is scheduled to begin in May 2021.