Fortnite maker Epic Games has won its antitrust battle with Google in a landmark case that went on for three years. The unanimous verdict by a US jury wraps up the legal battle between the tech companies. The jury found that Google turned its Play Store and Google Play Billing service into an illegal monopoly, The Verge reported late on Monday. Epic filed its lawsuit against Google in 2020, alleging that Google Play Store practices violated US antitrust laws. “Today’s verdict is a win for all app developers and consumers around the world,” Epic Games said in a statement. “It proves that Google’s app store practices are illegal and they abuse their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition and reduce innovation,” the company added.
Wilson White, Google’s VP of Government Affairs and Public Policy, said the company plans to appeal the verdict. “We plan to challenge the verdict. Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform,” White said in a statement. “We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and the broader Android ecosystem,” the Google spokesperson added. Epic Games said that throughout the trial, “we saw evidence that Google was willing to pay billions of dollars to stifle alternative app stores by paying developers to abandon their store efforts and direct distribution plans, and offering highly lucrative agreements with device manufacturers in exchange for excluding competing app stores.”
Google imposes a 30 per cent tax on developers simply because they have prevented any viable competitors from emerging to offer better deals. “And Google executives acknowledged in Court that their offer of a 26 per cent rate on third party payment options is a fake choice for developers,” said Epic Games. Earlier this year, Apple had won the long-drawn antitrust court battle in the US against Epic Games over its App Store policies. The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld the district court’s earlier ruling related to Epic Games’ antitrust claims in favour of Apple. However, it also upheld the lower court’s judgment in favour of Epic under California’s Unfair Competition Law.
Epic originally sued Apple in 2020, as Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store after the game maker intentionally violated the App Store terms over in-app purchases. The Fortnite make said that the evidence presented in the Google case “demonstrates the urgent need for legislation and regulations that address Apple and Google strangleholds over smartphones”.