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Apple boss Tim Cook ordered to submit to seven hour deposition in Fortnite legal battle

By | Published on Monday 1 February 2021


A Californian court last week ruled that Apple boss Tim Cook must take part in a seven hour deposition as part of his company’s ongoing legal battle with ‘Fortnite’ maker Epic Games. Apple had originally proposed that a zero hour deposition would be best.

Epic, of course, has gone legal over Apple’s App Store policies. Like other big app makers – Spotify in particular – Epic doesn’t like being forced to take in-app purchases on iOS devices via Apple’s commission-charging payment platform. It also objects to rules that ban app makers from sign-posting within their apps alternative payment options elsewhere on the internet.

Epic, Spotify and others argue that Apple’s App Store policies breach competition law – something the tech giant strongly denies. It claims that the likes of Epic and Spotify just don’t want to pay a fair rate for using the super-secure user-friendly payment system it’s invested heavily into developing.

The legal battle between Epic and Apple is now actually underway in multiple countries, though the highest profile litigation is that being fought in the courts in California.

As part of its preparations for its Californian court battle, the ‘Fortnite’ maker wants to force Cook into a lengthy deposition – ie an out-of-court testimony delivered under oath – in order to question the Apple boss about his company’s App Store rules, and the ins and outs of the tech giant’s wider app-based business.

The famously secretive Apple is unsurprisingly not so keen on having its boss man questioned in this way. Apple originally argued against Cook taking part in a deposition at all. When it became clear it was unlikely to get its way in this domain, Apple proposed a four hour session. But last week magistrate judge Thomas S Hixson ruled that a seven hour deposition was justified given the complexities of the case.

According to Law360, the judge wrote: “The facts of the case go way beyond the historical facts of what happened and when … there is really no one like Apple’s CEO who can testify about how Apple views competition in these various markets that are core to its business model”.

The decision was one of two setbacks Apple suffered in this dispute last week. Hixson also knocked back the tech giant’s request that it be able to subpoena certain internal documents from Samsung.

The rival phone maker isn’t involved in the legal battle but, Apple said, it wanted access to documents outlining how Samsung distributes ‘Fortnite’. That’s because it suspects its competitor has actually made similar decisions to Apple regarding that distribution.

However, Hixson declined to issue any such subpoena.