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Judge denies Apple’s motions to limit testimony from Tim Cook in Fortnite lawsuit

Judge denies Apple’s motions to limit testimony from Tim Cook in Fortnite lawsuit


The case is set to go to trial next July

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The latest development in the ongoing lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple over the iPhone maker’s App Store policies is a new order from Judge Thomas Hixson outlining rules for Apple CEO Tim Cook’s planned testimony in the case, as well as whether software engineering chief Craig Federighi may have to participate in the case.

The court order, spotted on Thursday by iMore and Apple Insider, gives us our first glimpse into how Apple’s executive leadership may be involved in the ongoing antitrust lawsuit, which is scheduled to go to trial as early as July of next year.

Apple failed to limit Tim Cook’s eventual testimony to just four hours

The order, issued on Wednesday following a December 15th hearing, says Apple will not be able to limit Cook’s testimony to four hours, as the company had sought. Only after Apple provides the necessary documents requested by Epic’s lawyers on the App Store’s operations can the length of testimony be determined, the order states.

Hixon also shot down a request from Apple to replace Federighi with Erik Neuenschwander. the company’s director of privacy engineering. Federighi is now listed as a document custodian, which will have an effect on which documents are entered into discovery at the request of Epic’s lawyers. It does not, however, mean he has to testify — but there is a possibility he will be ordered to do so in the future.

“The Court rules for Plaintiffs and orders Apple to make Federighi a document custodian instead of Neuenschwander. First, Plaintiffs have shown that Federighi is a higher-level decision maker whose documents are more likely to go to the heart of Apple’s business justification defense,” reads the order. “Second, if Plaintiffs have guessed wrong, and Federighi’s documents are not as relevant as Neuenschwander’s are, that hurts Plaintiffs. Assuming the requests are relevant and proportional, it is up to Plaintiffs to decide what discovery they want to take to prove their claims, and if they make bad choices, that’s their problem.”

The case is still in the preliminary stages, and much of the public back-and-forth criticism from Apple and Epic that erupted in August has quieted as both sides’ lawyers have begun preparing for the next stages of the lawsuit. An upcoming deadline for new filings is set for January 6th, 2021 with a hearing two days later.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Apple CEO Tim Cook and software engineering chief Craig Federighi were ordered to testify in case. That is incorrect; Apple offered to have Cook deposed, but was disputing the length of time. Federighi was made a document custodian, but a decision has not been made whether he will have to testify in the case. The headline has been updated to reflect these changes. We regret the errors.