Apple v. Epic: Both Sides Decline Jury Trial

In a move which is decidedly unexpected, both Apple and Epic have declined the suggestion that their case be handled through a trial by jury. Instead, the case will be heard at a bench trial by a judge.

On Monday, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers recommended that the case be heard by a jury. Apple had previously indicated in its countersuit against Epic that the company’s legal team, too, wanted a jury trial. Yet after Judge Rogers made the suggestion, both litigants have agreed not pursue that option.

In a joint statement filed by their respective legal teams, they wrote, “Epic and Apple have met and conferred, and the parties agree that Epic’s claims and Apple’s counterclaims should be tried by court, and not by a jury. Therefore, with Epic’s consent, Apple hereby withdraws its demand for a jury trial[…]The parties respectfully request that the case (including any claims and counterclaims) proceed to a bench trial on a schedule determined by the court.”

In her original comments on Monday, Judge Rogers opined that she was likely a “stepping stone” to the final outcome of the case, and because of that, she recommended a jury trial on the premise that the questions involved needed to be answered not solely by a judge.

With this latest move, the original and tentative date of July 2021 may or may not be changed owing to the different requirements of a bench trial, as there will now be no need to select jurors.

Food For Thought

After Apple’s explicitly stated desire for a jury trial, and after Epic’s denunciatory refusal of creating an escrow account for Fortnite revenues, it’s almost shocking that both sides are actually agreeing on something besides the fact the sky appears blue. As to what motivated this sudden change, it’s anybody’s guess. One possibility might be that Apple’s legal team saw potential areas where a jury might not be moved by the contract breach, or where a jury might find the contract invalid on its face. It seems Judge Rogers will have to be the sole stepping stone on this path for the time being.

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