Epic filed the lawsuit in 2020, claiming that Google had created a monopoly with its Google Play Store on Android devices, with more than 95% of Android apps distributed through it.
The complaint revolved around Google’s insistence on taking a 30% revenue share from any app on the Google Play Store, along with its requirement that these apps use Google Play’s own billing system, meaning developers had no way of making money without going through Google.
It also claimed that Google offered lucrative deals with device manufacturers in exchange for excluding other app stores on their devices.
The verdict has now been delivered, with the jury finding that:
There is an antitrust market on Android devices
Google “willfully acquired or maintained monopoly power by engaging in anticompetitive conduct”
Google entered into agreements “that unreasonably restrained trade”
Google unlawfully tied the use of the Google Play Store to the use of Google Play Billing
Epic was damaged as a result of Google’s violations of antitrust laws
A post on Epic’s blog called the decision “a win for all app developers and consumers around the world”, saying it “proves that Google’s app store practices are illegal and they abuse their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition and reduce innovation”.
Victory over Google! After 4 weeks of detailed court testimony, the California jury found against the Google Play monopoly on all counts. The Court’s work on remedies will start in January. Thanks for everyone’s support and faith! Free Fortnite! https://t.co/ITm4YBHCus— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) December 12, 2023
It’s not yet clear what changes the verdict will bring to the way app stores are run in the future. Epic and Google are set to meet the judge in January to discuss possible remedies, while Google plans to appeal.
The legal battle began in August 2020 after Epic moved to circumvent platform fees with a new direct payment option in Fortnite, leading to the game’s removal from Google Play and the App Store.
Epic subsequently took legal action against both Google and Apple “to end [their] anti-competitive restrictions on mobile device marketplaces”, but effectively lost the Apple case in 2021, its only silver lining being the judge’s ruling that Apple could no longer restrict developers from pointing users to external payment options where Apple didn’t get a cut.
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