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Epic vs. Apple lurches on, this time about antisteering compliance

Fortnite on an iPhone

Epic Games has convinced a US District Court to order a hearing over its assertion that Apple is failing to comply with the games company's one App Store victory.

The long-running legal case of Fortnite developer Epic Games versus Apple appeared to suddenly resolve in December 2023, but legal cases don't seem to ever end completely. While Apple won on practically every count, it lost over an anti-steering accusation, the issue that it prevented developers from informing customers of alternative payment options.

Apple formally told the court in January 2024 that it was complying with the order and would now allow developers to inform users. The company has been criticized, however, for imposing stipulations that mean the new rules are little better than the original ones.

Consequently, Epic Games has been accusing Apple of effective non-compliance. Now the US District Court of the Northern District of California has ruled that there are sufficient grounds for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Apple is fully complying.

In a filing, the court said that Epic Games "has made a sufficient preliminary showing" that Apple's response to the anti-steering mandate undermines the sprit of the injuction.

The court has now ordered Epic Games and Apple to return for a hearing on May 8, 2024. Epic Games has been asking for the court to hold Apple in contempt, to correctly update its policies, and to remove all of its new anti-steering provisions.

The return for an evidentiary hearing does not mean that the court agrees with Epic Games. It means that the court believes there is reasonable grounds to investigate further.

"To succeed on such a motion," says the court, "Epic Games must show, by clear and convincing evidence, that (1) Apple violated the injunction, (2) its violation was 'beyond substantial compliance,' and (3) its conduct was 'not based on any good faith and reasonable interpretation of the injunction.'"

The hearing follows Apple's unsuccessful urging of the court to ignore Epic's contempt of court complaint.