According to Wikipedia, Scott Forstall "involuntarily" resigned as senior vice president (SVP) of iOS software in the fall of 2012. Since then, he's kept a very low profile. Based on his past responsibilities for iOS, Epic Games would very much like to ask him some questions. Interestingly, Mr. Forstall joined Steve Jobs in the announcement of the launch of the App Store "to explain the mechanics of app development for the iPhone" as Epic writes in a joint case management statement with Apple (this post continues below the document):
Mr. Forstall's testimony would be used in a couple of months when the big Epic Games v. Apple App Store antitrust case goes to trial in Oakland (Northern District of California).
According to Epic, Apple initially sounded like they were fine with Mr. Forstall testifying, and that they would take care of the logistics. But, according to Epic, "Apple now states that it never suggested it could compel Mr. Forstall to appear for a deposition," after "promising [for well over a month] it would provide a date for Mr. Forstall’s deposition." At some point, a deposition had been tentatively scheduled (for Febvruary 11), but the week before, "Apple revealed that Mr. Forstall had not responded to Apple's inquiries or confirmed that he will appear for a deposition." And the story goes on like this:
"When Epic requested that Apple provide Mr. Forstall’s last known address and contact information, Apple initially provided a PO box and a Twitter handle. Apple also represented that it was not authorized to share Mr. Forstall’s phone number, but later stated that it did not believe that it was in possession of Mr. Forstall’s current phone number. Epic therefore requested that Apple agree that (i) Mr. Forstall’s deposition may occur after February 15, 2021, and (ii) Epic may supplement its expert reports with information arising from his deposition. Apple agreed that Mr. Forstall’s deposition may occur after February 15, 2021, but imposed an arbitrary deadline of March 10, 2021, and refused to agree that Epic may supplement its expert reports. The Parties have not resolved these issues. Epic is currently attempting to locate Mr. Forstall, and hopes that the Parties may avoid the need for Court intervention on these issues."
In the same court filing, Apple admits that it had originally "indicated that it expected its counsel to represent Mr. Forstall at his deposition." Apple says it's OK with the deposition if it takes place before March 10, but doesn't want Epic to "hold discovery open indefinitely while it seeks to locate, serve, and depose another witness." The discovery cutoff date was last week.
If the parties can't work it out until then, this issue may come up during tomorrow's discovery hearing before Magistrate Judge Thomas Hixson (who is not presiding over the actual case but effectively handling certain matters, particuarly discovery-related ones, for Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. Judge Hixson has a strong antitrust background, which probably comes in handy with respect to Epic Games v. Apple.
March 10 is approaching fast, so the question is whether Epic can locate Mr. Forstall in time, and compel him to testify, ahead of that deadline given by Apple. Ultimately, it's for the court--not Apple--to decide. The trial is still on track to go forward in May, and Epic appears convinced that the trial date wouldn't be affected by this additional deposition.
Former executives are sometimes very reluctant to testify in cases involving their ex-employer. Two years ago, a former Qualcomm president duct-taped the gate to his home (and ultimately had to testify anyway).
Apple's behavior in this context may actually have served to strengthen Epic's resolve to hear what Mr. Forstall has to say. If it is true that he was forced out in 2012, he might not be 100% loyal to his former employer, more than eight years after having been (if true) fired. I don't think Apple is certain that Mr. Forstall's testimony would hurt its case. But if Apple could rely on him, and didn't have to fear that he might seize this opportunity to cleverly and truthfully (under oath) settle some accounts, why would Apple have played these kinds of games with Epic? This could get very interesting, though it's also possible that--once located and compelled--he'll just be evasive and obstructive.
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