As part of its ongoing legal battle, Epic Games is now seeking testimony from Apple’s former iOS software chief, Scott Forstall.
Forstall left Apple in 2013, in what was widely reported at the time to have been a forced exit, largely because of the botched early launch of Apple Maps. Since then, Forstall has kept a very low profile and has only made a few media appearances in the past few years, choosing instead to focus on Broadway production. Epic Games now wants to ask Forstall some questions, given his involvement around the launch of the App Store, to use as potential evidence for its case against Apple.
According to court documents (via FOSS Patents), on Decemeber 15, 2020, Apple offered to depose and later represent Forstall. Epic alleges, however, that Apple is now stating it never offered the deposition and that Apple “kept promising it would provide a date for Mr. Forstall’s deposition but did not.”
Epic says it didn’t proactively attempt to reach out to Forstall itself, given Apple’s indication that it would handle the logistics and planning of the deposition, according to the court document. Both Epic and Apple agreed to a tentatively scheduled deposition for February 11. Ten days earlier, Apple admitted that Forstall did not respond to its request to appear, according to Epic.
When Epic asked Apple for specific information about Forstall’s whereabouts, Apple provided a PO box and Twitter handle, according to the court filing. Apple initially stated it did not have the authority to provide Epic with Forstall’s phone number, but then later said it didn’t believe it had that information in its possession. Epic continues to allege that both parties agreed that a deposition may occur after February 15, and that Apple set a deadline of March 10, 2021.
Epic says it is now “attempting to locate Mr. Forstall.” In response, Apple says that it “does not object to a deposition of Mr. Forstall in advance of March 10, 2021,” but reiterates the fact that it plans to represent him in the deposition, and that it cannot compel a former employee to take part in the ongoing legal dispute. Apple says that it will work “collaboratively” with Epic to resolve the issue, but says that Epic “cannot hold discovery open indefinitely while it seeks to locate, serve, and depose another witness.”
Epic believes that Forstall could be of use in its ongoing battle with the Cupertino tech giant because of his involvement around the launch of the App Store, the center of its lawsuit. Apple may be reluctant to have Forstall testify, however, given the rocky departure he had from the company, and any form of deposition would be a test for Forstall’s loyalty to his former employer.
Epic now has until March 10 to locate Forstall and seek his agreement to appear for a deposition. Whether he agrees or not, Apple CEO Tim Cook and SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi are set to testify. A judge ruled in December that both executives will need to appear for a deposition at the request of Epic.
The two companies are preparing to battle it out in court in a hearing currently set for July 2021, which will mark almost a year since the whole dispute between Epic and Apple began.