U.S. judge rules Apple could bar Epic Games's 'Fortnite' from App Store

By Kanishka Singh and Stephen Nellis
(Reuters) - A federal judge in California ruled in an injunction on Friday that Apple Inc <AAPL.O> may ban Epic Games' "Fortnite" game from its app store, but may do business with Epic's developer tools, which includes the "Unreal" does not affect Engine "software used by hundreds of other video games.
"The court retains its findings from the injunction and hereby partially grants Epic Games' application for an injunction and partially rejects it," said District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.
Epic Games and Apple were not immediately available to comment on the judgment.
Last month, Epic Games filed for an injunction to put the game back on the App Store and restore the developer account after the iPhone maker canceled Epic Games' account in the App Store.
Epic sued Apple in August, alleging that the company's 30% commission on some in-app purchases through the App Store, coupled with Apple's control over which apps users can download to their iPhones, was anti-competitive behavior. The lawsuit came after Epic launched its own payment system for the popular Fortnite video game.
Apple does not allow such alternative payment systems and removed Fortnite from the App Store and threatened to terminate Epic's developer accounts, which would have affected Epic's other business of selling software to create games.
Epic wanted to stop Apple from taking both steps. The judge had previously issued an emergency order that allowed Apple to pull Epic's titles from the App Store, but prevented the iPhone maker from taking action that would harm Epic's developer tools.
"Epic Games has strong arguments regarding Apple's exclusive distribution via the iOS App Store and the in-app purchase system (" IAP "), through which Apple takes over 30% of certain IAP payments," said the judge in Friday's decision .
However, she added that Epic Games had not adequately addressed Apple's counter arguments. "The shares that are dealt with in the injunction remain the same."

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Peter Henderson and Grant McCool)

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