Apple and Epic Games will begin trial in May, and the list of possible witnesses has already been announced. It includes CEOs Tim Cook and Tim Sweeney, as well as other senior executives and a number of former employees. All of them will attend the court hearing in person.
Apple gets sued very often, but it's difficult to remember a case when the company's top executives had to testify. Apple usually manages to keep the lawsuits behind the scenes and involve middle-level employees in the proceedings, or generally lawyers. However, the case against Epic Games is completely different.
The preliminary initial witness list submitted by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Oakland Division states that CEO Tim Cook will be Apple's main witness. He will be available for a total of 2 hours and 10 minutes of examination, cross-examination, and re-direct examination. The list also includes App Store VP Matt Fischer and Senior VP of Software Development Craig Federighi. In addition, the list also includes Phil Schiller, who was the company's senior vice president of marketing until 2020. He will be available for 11 hours of testimony.
Apple responded in its statement:
"Our senior executives look forward to sharing with the court the very positive impact the App Store has had on innovation, economies across the world and the customer experience over the last 12 years. We feel confident the case will prove that Epic purposefully breached its agreement solely to increase its revenues, which is what resulted in their removal from the App Store. By doing that, Epic circumvented the security features of the App Store in a way that would lead to reduced competition and put consumers' privacy and data security at tremendous risk."
There has never been such a list of witnesses in any lawsuit in the entire history of Apple.
Epic Games will be represented by CEO Tim Sweeney and Vice President Mark Rein. According to Bloomberg, the company will also summon several third-party witnesses, including former Apple head of developer relations Ron Okamoto, former head of App Store quality assurance Phillip Shoemaker, and former head of iOS software engineering Scott Forstall.
Executives from Microsoft, Facebook, and NVIDIA will also act as other witnesses in the court (but their names were not disclosed).
“The chorus of developers speaking out against Apple and their anti-competitive practices has become louder. We are not alone in this fight. We look forward to making our case for competition in app distribution and payment processes,” Epic said in a statement.
The trial will officially begin on May 3.
The conflict between the two companies arose in August last year after Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store for trying to bypass its own App Store payment system and avoid a 30% commission. Then the game's developer, Epic Games, sued Apple and even formed a coalition with other developers, including the streaming service Spotify. Fortnite is still not available on iOS.
After the trial began, the situation started changing. For example, Apple and Google announced a reduction in the service fee from 30% to 15% for certain developers.
Against this background, Arizona passed a law allowing alternative payment systems in the App Store and Google Play applications.
In the meantime, even Valve was involved in the proceedings. At the request of Apple, the court ordered the company to disclose some of the confidential data on sales on Steam, including annual revenue.