Judge issues restraining order protecting Unreal Engine development on iOS

Enlarge / Epic will be allowed to continue developing Unreal Engine on iOS, even as Fortnite remains blocked on the platform, thanks to a judge's ruling.Epic

A Northern California federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking Apple from going forward with plans to terminate Epic Games' Apple Developer Program account, which would have had a major impact on the development of Unreal Engine on iOS. At the same time, the judge left in place Apple's current blocking of Fortnite from the iOS App Store after Epic tried to insert an alternative payment platform into the mobile game.

Judge to Apple: Hands off Unreal Engine

In an eight-page ruling issued Monday night, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers largely accepted Epic's argument that Apple's Xcode and SDK agreement (used for development of Unreal Engine on iOS) is walled off and separate from the Program License Agreement that Epic allegedly breached with its actions regarding Fortnite.

"Apples reliance on its 'historical practice' of removing all 'affiliated' developer accounts in similar situations or on broad language in the operative contract at issue here can be better evaluated with full briefing," Rogers wrote.

Moreover, in a livestreamed Zoom hearing preceding the ruling Monday night, Rogers told Apple that if it prevailed in the case, "Epic just owes you money… You don't have to take the step of removing access [for Unreal Engine development]… With respect to Unreal Engine, that seems like an overreach."

Even if Epic eventually wins the fuller argument on that score, it would be "too late to save all the projects by third-party developers relying on the engine that were shelved while support was unavailable," Rogers wrote. Thus, a temporary restraining order is necessary to protect the status quo during upcoming court proceedings. "Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem," Rogers wrote.

Judge to Epic: Youre hurting yourself

When it comes to Fortnite, however, Rogers largely accepted Apple's argument that any current damage to Epic due to the game's unavailability on iOS has been self-inflicted. There is currently no "irreparable harm" to Epic, Rogers wrote, because "the current predicament appears of [Epic's] own making."

"Your client created this situation," Rogers told lawyers for Epic in Monday night's hearing. "Your client does not come to this action with clean hands… in my view, you cannot have irreparable harm when you create the harm yourself."

In her ruling, Rogers describes Epic's "hotfix" insertion of a "Direct Payments" option in Fortnite on iOS as a "calculated decision to breachRead More – Source