US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers says she loathes when lawyers use hype and grandstands like they are Perry Mason. She says lunch breaks are the enemy of productivity and parents should be aware of this Pi day by feeding children’s cakes. And she says she helped her son thrive as an aerospace engineer by denying him video games.

Now the tech world is waiting to hear the biggest statement from Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ career as it decides if

Apple Inc.’s

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Control over the distribution and payment of apps on mobile devices is against antitrust law. At stake is Epic Games Inc.’s Fortnite, a video game with hundreds of millions of players and control of the sprawling mobile app market.

“Everyone wants to read their minds,” said Chris Sagers, Cleveland State University professor of law and antitrust researcher.

The conflict broke out after Epic Games introduced an in-app payment system in Fortnite that bypassed Apple commissions and the guidelines that require developers to use their own payment processing services. That prompted Apple to do so Sell ​​”Fortnite” from the App Storeprovoke Epics antitrust lawsuit and its claims that Apple is exploiting the popularity of its devices to squeeze developers.

Apple says it is not a monopoly and that competition is thriving in a distribution landscape with Google Android software and game consoles. The Process that started last weekis expected to run through May.

Apple’s stock market value hit a new record this year, but long-standing disputes with app developers are gushing out. WSJ explains why high profile companies like Epic Games, Spotify and Tinder are at odds with the App Store rules. Video / Illustration: Jaden Urbi / WSJ

Neither Apple nor Fortnite maker Epic are newcomers to Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ courtroom in Oakland, California.

In 2014, she led a lawsuit accusing Apple of suppressing competition for its iPod music players. A The jury was on Apple’s side.

Apple later prevailed in another case before Judge Gonzalez Rogers. She declined to certify a class action lawsuit accusing Apple and Apple

AT & T.

illegally preventing iPhone customers from switching providers.

“It seems to continue to decide in favor of Apple,” said Prof. Sagers, but he and other scientists warn against reading too much into previous cases and decisions.

Judge Gonzalez Rogers has indicated in the past that she is willing to uphold at least one antitrust theory, which is vital to Epic’s legal argument: According to John Newman, a university of, a corporation may have undue power in the market for its own products and services exercise professor of antitrust law in Miami. Courts examining antitrust complaints rarely draw the boundaries of a market as narrowly as Epic by claiming Apple is illegal Restricting trade within its own Apple ecosystem.

Just a few weeks ago, Judge Gonzalez Rogers became embroiled in the “Fortnite” mania when he heard a class action lawsuit against Epic, who eventually settled.

At a 2019 hearing, a confused judge Gonzalez Rogers asked the attorneys, “Is ‘Fortnite’ as big a deal as they say it is?”

“My daughters think it’s kind of cool working for them,” replied Epic’s attorney. Judge Gonzalez Rogers offered her own son as a counter-argument.

“He wanted to play video games,” said the 56-year-old judge. “I’ve said ‘no’ to him so many times that he made his own out of paper and made little cards that he put up his sleeve so he could play games. He’s an aerospace engineer now and I’m pretty glad I said no. ”

Texas-raised judge Gonzalez Rogers attended Princeton University, cleaning houses on weekends and cutting grass to pay tuition fees.

She graduated from the University of Texas with a law degree from the Austin School of Law and spent her early career as a litigator with Cooley LLP in San Francisco. In 2008, then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to the Alameda County’s Supreme Court. In 2011, then-President Barack Obama raised them to the Bundesbank, whose headquarters are within an hour’s drive of Apple, Google.

Facebook

and

Twitter.

Your docket is technically difficult, but varied. Last year it made headlines with a sharply worded decision that the Trump administration did away with a rollback of Obama-era climate regulation. She recorded this early on

Abercrombie & Fitch

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illegal discriminated against a Muslim employee by asking her to remove her headscarf. The teenage clothing retailer said its dress code was essential to its brand image but agreed to change his “Look Policy” after the judgment.

Some of their decisions were overturned on appeal.

The US Ninth Court of Appeals overturned its decision to put a man accused of attempting to sell a grenade launcher to an undercover federal agent in custody. Judge Gonzalez Rogers had allowed him to stay with his grandmother, on condition that he write book reports for at least an hour and a half a day about stories of people who had overcome difficult circumstances.

On the way there, Judge Gonzalez Rogers has developed a reputation among the litigators as a lawyer with which one must not do anything. She has berated trial attorneys for gesticulations and facial expressions that, according to court records, she found disrespectful.

In 2018, a company lawyer requested an extension of the registration period. His excuse was a planned ankle surgery. The judge was less than compassionate. “If you don’t like my schedule, see a judge,” she said. “They’ll be way nicer to you than me.”

Others have seen a warmer side. Though she doesn’t approve of lunch breaks, she believes in snacks and feeds judges chocolate chips and batter baked by her son, muffins made by her mother, and goodies from Trader Joe’s.

“She’s genuinely interested and not so stuffy about the law, but it’s incredibly human,” said Thomas P. Brown, antitrust attorney with Paul Hastings LLP in San Francisco.

In the Epic v Apple trial, Judge Gonzalez Rogers showed a willingness to interview witnesses and several sharp witnesses for Epic’s chief executive Tim Sweeney. In an exchange, she had fired Mr. Sweeney only to quit when she pondered her mind with another question about what he would do if he lost the case: “What’s your backup plan?”

Mr. Sweeney seemed unprepared. “If Apple’s actions are lawful, I acknowledge that Apple has the right to remove Epic from the developer program for any reason or without reason, and then it would be up to Apple to decide,” he said.

Your attitude towards video games could evolve. She discovered that her daughter has a Nintendo Switch. At a hearing last year, an Epic attorney attempted to point out that the iPhone was unique in terms of its portability when compared to video game consoles when she interrupted it.

“You forget the switch,” she said. “I went online yesterday, and at least in the Bay Area, you can’t get a switch anywhere.”

Write to Jacob Gershman at jacob.gershman@wsj.com and Tim Higgins Tim.Higgins@WSJ.com

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