Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Apple gets more time to respond to Epic Games' motion for a temporary restraining order--Monday hearing postponed, case may be transferred to Oakland

Within about 20 minutes of my post on Gibson Dunn representing Apple against Epic Games' App Store antitrust complaint in the Northern District of California, the following clerk's notice came in:

"Per the Court's discussion with the parties, Defendant shall have until Friday, August 21, 2020, to file an opposition to [17] Plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order. The hearing on the motion is temporarily vacated. Should the instant case be transferred to Judge Gonzalez-Rogers, briefing and/or hearing dates may be subject to change."

These are the practical implications:

  • The deadline for Apple to respond to the motion has been pushed back from noon on Wednesday to midnight on Friday.

  • There won't be a Monday hearing.

  • The case may be transferred from the San Francisco division to Oakland, where United States District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers is based.

  • In the event of a transfer to Oakland, Apple might get even more time and/or Epic might be allowed to file a reply brief ahead of the hearing.

I've previously expressed doubts over whether this motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) was truly as urgent as Epic's lawyers claimed. Originally they would have preferred a hearing to be held the same day, which would practically have required Judge Edward Chen to make a decision without the benefit of an opposition filing. With the court having vacated the Monday hearing, Apple's ultimatum for a termination of Epic's developer agreement may expire prior to a decision on the TRO motion. While there is no doubt that Epic sooner or later needs access to Apple's developer program, it's not like the Unreal Engine would instantly stop working for any of Epic's licensees in the event of a termination.

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