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Tim Cook ordered to sit for a seven-hour deposition for Epic Games case

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 20, 2019 Apple CEO Tim Cook speak to the press during a tour of the Flextronics computer manufacturing facility, with US President Donald Trump, where Apple's Mac Pros are assembled in Austin, Texas. - Apple chief Tim Cook says he wants those involved with the deadly attack on the US Capitol last week to be held accountable, even if that includes US President Donald Trump.
(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 20, 2019 Apple CEO Tim Cook speak to the press during a tour of the Flextronics computer manufacturing facility, with US President Donald Trump, where Apple's Mac Pros are assembled in Austin, Texas. - Apple chief Tim Cook says he wants those involved with the deadly attack on the US Capitol last week to be held accountable, even if that includes US President Donald Trump. "Everyone that had a part in it needs to be held accountable," Cook said in a CBS This Morning interview posted online January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (AFP)

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been ordered to sit for a seven-hour deposition for the Epic Games case. The trial for Apple and Epic’s case is currently set for May 3.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been ordered by a judge to face a seven-hour deposition for the ongoing litigation battle with Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite. Court Documents revealed that Epic wanted to depose Cook for eight hours.

Apple initially invoked the apex doctrine, which is a rule that prevents high-level corporate employees from being deposed, but then offered a four-hour deposition instead as concession, according to reports.

However, according to Judge Thomas Hixon, the dispute between Apple and Epic is “less than meets the eye” and the apex doctrine only “limits the length of a deposition, rather than barring it altogether”.

According to Hixon, the real question is “whether Cook should be deposed for ‘four hours, eight hours, or some length of time in between’,” but also noted that the decision would have to be a “practical one” since “there is no legal principle to answer the question”.

Hixon decided on the seven-hour deposition and said the time frame was “the default rule of how long a witness must suffer being deposed”. He also added another factor that weighed in on his ruling which was whether Cook has “unique, non-repetitive knowledge of the facts in this case”, which is an important focus of the apex doctrine.

Also Read: Epic widens Fortnite dispute with Apple, Google in UK

"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," Hixon wrote. 

"The antitrust claims presented here implicate the competition the company faces and important aspects of its business model. The CEO’s understanding of these subjects is almost by definition unique and non-repetitive.” he added.

The judge also added that Epic has demonstrated the deposition is going to be meaningful and cited Cook’s previous testimony before the Congress on “issues relevant to the three cases and the game maker's ability to ‘put forth enough factual information to show that a deposition of ordinary length would not be abusive or harassing’,”.

Hixon determined that under the apex doctrine, a deposition of longer than seven hours for Cook is "unjustified”.

Also Read: Fortnite is coming back to iOS thanks to Nvidia’s cloud gaming web app

Additionally, Hixon denied a request from Apple to subpoena internal documents from Samsung, which Apple said supports its claim that their App Store policies are similar to other companies’ policies. Hixon called the request a "quirky deep dive" into Samsung and Epic's relationship.

"If the market includes dozens or hundreds of app producers, then the ability this particular company has to distribute its apps on other platforms is barely relevant to the antitrust claims at issue, which focus on the effect Apple’s policies have on a market, not just one competitor," Hixon said and explained that because of Epic's size, its arrangement with Samsung "cannot serve as a stand-in for some larger category of market participants".

"This means that the requested documents are idiosyncratic to Epic itself and unlikely to be important evidence of competition in a market or the effect of Apple’s policies on any sort of market, however, the market may ultimately be defined," Hixon added. Other companies subpoenaed by Apple include Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Amazon.

A trial for Apple and Epic's case is currently set for May 3, 2021, according to a court filing in October.

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