Fortnite maker Epic Games has won a victory in its high-profile antitrust trial over Alphabet’s Google, alleging that the Play App Store operated as an illegal monopoly. may be harmed.
After more than a month of trial in Epic’s lawsuit, a court filing revealed that jurors chose Epic on all counts, including allegations of Google eliminating competitors and charging app developers unfairly high fees of up to 30 percent. Was accused of taking action to recover. In January the court will begin work on what measures should be imposed.
The decision marks a stunning defeat for Google, which together with Apple operates one of the world’s largest app stores. If the ruling is upheld, it has the potential to give developers more power over how their apps are distributed and how they profit from them.
Google said it would appeal. “We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and the broader Android ecosystem,” Wilson White, vice president of government affairs and public policy at Google, said in an emailed statement.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney praised the decision on social media site X on Monday, calling it a “monopoly of Google Play.”
Victory over Google! After 4 weeks of detailed court testimony, a California jury found against Google Play’s monopoly on all counts. Court work on the measures will begin in January. Thanks for everyone’s support and trust! Free fortnite! https://t.co/ITm4YBHCus
– Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) 12 December 2023
Lawyers for both companies gave their closing arguments Monday morning and the federal judge handed the case over to the jury less than four hours ago, with instructions that the verdict must be unanimous.
Among Epic’s allegations were that Google illegally tied its Play Store and billing service together, meaning developers were required to use both to get their apps included in the store.
While the Play Store represents a much smaller share of Google’s revenue than its massively profitable search business, it is symbolically important as the central gatekeeper of billions of mobile phones and tablets.
Google may be forced to allow more app stores on Android-powered devices and may lose revenue from a cut of in-app purchases.
“(Today’s decision) proves that Google’s App Store practices are illegal and that they abuse their monopoly to charge excessive fees, stifle competition, and stifle innovation,” Epic said in a statement on its website. “
Google accused of deleting messages
“The trial shines a very bright light on what Google has done to undermine competition,” Gary Bornstein, an attorney for Epic, told jurors earlier in the day. Have been “systematically blocked”.
Among the more sensational allegations was that Google had a system of deleting texts and internal messages intended to conceal its anti-competitive behavior. An attorney for Epic instructed jurors on Monday that they could assume that the content of the deleted messages were relevant to the case and “would have been prejudicial to Google.”
Google has denied wrongdoing, arguing that it competes “intensely on price, quality and security” against Apple’s App Store.
Jonathan Kravis, a lawyer for Google, told jurors that “Google doesn’t want to lose 60 million Android users to Apple every year.” Google has lowered its fee structure to compete with Apple, Kravis said.
“This is not the behavior of a monopolist,” he said.
Google settled claims related to dating app maker Match before the trial began. The tech giant also settled related antitrust claims by US states and consumers under terms that have not been made public.
Epic filed a similar antitrust case against Apple in 2020, but in September 2021, a US judge largely ruled in Apple’s favor.
Epic has asked the US Supreme Court to revive key claims in the Apple case, and Apple is fighting the part of a ruling for Epic that would require changes to App Store rules.
A lawyer for the gamemaker said on Monday that Epic violated Play Store rules by knowingly bypassing its billing system, which allows customers to make in-app purchases directly with Epic. As a result, Google banned Fortnite and Epic filed its own lawsuit in response.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
(TagstoTranslate)Epic Games Wins Fortnite Antitrust Case Google Play Store Apps Illegal Monopoly Epic Games(T)Google(T)Play Store(T)Apps(T)Fortnite(T)Antitrust Lawsuit