U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers says she abhors when lawyers use hyperbole and grandstand like they are Perry Mason. She says lunch breaks are the enemy of productivity and that parents ought to observe Pi Day by feeding children pies. And she says she helped her son find success as an aeronautical engineer by denying him videogames.
Now, the tech world is waiting to hear the biggest pronouncement of Judge Gonzalez Rogers’s career when she decides whether Apple Inc.’s grip over the distribution and payment of apps on its mobile devices violates antitrust law. At stake is Epic Games Inc.’s “Fortnite,” a videogame with hundreds of millions of players and control of the sprawling mobile app marketplace.
“Everyone wants to read her mind,” said Chris Sagers, a Cleveland State University law professor and an antitrust scholar.
The conflict erupted after Epic Games introduced an in-app payment system within “Fortnite” that skirted Apple commissions and its policy requiring developers to use its own payment processing services. That prompted Apple to expel “Fortnite” from the App Store, provoking Epic’s antitrust lawsuit and its claims that Apple is exploiting the popularity of its devices to squeeze developers.
Apple says that it isn’t a monopoly and that competition is flourishing in a distribution landscape that includes Google Android software and gaming consoles. The trial, which kicked off last week, is expected to run through May.