(Reuters) – A federal judge in California late on Tuesday dismissed some of Apple Inc’s counterclaims against Epic Games, in a dispute that has seen the online game maker’s “Fortnite” game removed from the iPhone maker’s App Store.
Apple and Epic have been in a legal battle since August, when the maker of the popular game launched its own in-app payment system to circumvent what it called Apple’s monopolistic practices.
Epic in October had filed a motion in advance of Tuesday’s hearing, seeking the dismissal of Apple’s counterclaims of intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and conversion, where in Apple had asked for lost App Store fees and other monetary damages.
“It is hereby ordered that the application of John I. Karin is granted,” U.S. district judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said in the Tuesday filing, referring to the application by the lawyer for Epic.
A judge in October had ruled that Apple could bar Epic’s “Fortnite” game from its App Store but must not harm Epic’s developer tools business, including the “Unreal Engine” software, which is used by hundreds of other video games.
“This is a high-stakes breach of contract case and an antitrust case and that’s all in my view,” U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers told lawyers, according to Bloomberg.
“You can’t just say it’s independently wrongful,” Bloomberg quoted the judge as saying to a lawyer for Apple, referring to Epic’s conduct. “You actually have to have facts,” the judge said, adding that the rest of the breach-of-contract case moves forward.
Apple and Epic did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment. The iPhone maker told Bloomberg that it disagreed with the judge’s decision on Tuesday, adding that it was clear that Epic breached its contract with the company.
Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru