Jury Rules in Favor of Epic Games in Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

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A federal jury on Monday ruled in favor of Epic Games, the developer of popular video game “Fortnite,” in its antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the internet giant of operating as a monopoly on Android apps.

Jurors in California ruled in favor of Epic on all counts, determining that Google holds monopoly power in both the Android app distribution and in-app billing services markets, according to a court filing.

“Victory over Google!” Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney stated on X following the verdict.

“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,” he added.

Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Google in 2020, accusing the company of abusing its power to shield its Play Store from competition in order to protect an asset that makes billions of dollars annually.

Epic lawyer Gary Bornstein depicted Google as a ruthless bully that deploys a “bribe and block” strategy to discourage competition against its Play Store for Android apps.

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In a blog post on Dec. 11, Epic said the verdict proved that the Google’s app store practices are illegal and that it was abusing its monopoly to “extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition, and reduce innovation.”

“Today’s verdict is a win for all app developers and consumers around the world,” Epic stated.

According to the game developer, Google imposes a “30 percent 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 percent rate on third party payment options is a fake choice for developers.

“This is, of course, what we know. From the CEO down, Google employees willfully re-directed sensitive conversations to chat, knowing that their contents would be deleted forever,” the company added.

Epic said the evidence presented in this case demonstrates “the urgent need for legislation and regulations that address Apple and Google strangleholds over smartphones.”

Google to Appeal Verdict

Wilson White, vice president of government affairs and public policy at Google, said the internet giant is planning to appeal the verdict.

 A person logging into Epic Games's "Fortnite" on their smartphone in Los Angeles on Aug. 14, 2020. (Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images)
A person logging into Epic Games’s “Fortnite” on their smartphone in Los Angeles on Aug. 14, 2020. (Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images)

“Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform,” Mr. White stated.

“The trial made clear that we compete fiercely with Apple and its App Store, as well as app stores on Android devices and gaming consoles,” he added.

Depending on how the judge enforces the jury’s verdict, Google could lose billions of dollars in annual profit generated from its Play Store commissions. The company’s main source of revenue—digital advertising tied mostly to its search engine, Gmail, and other services—won’t be directly affected by the trial’s outcome.

Google’s empire could be further undermined by another major antitrust trial in Washington that will be decided by a federal judge after hearing final arguments in May.

Meanwhile, Apple prevailed in a similar case that Epic brought against the App Store. But that 2021 trial was decided by a federal judge in a ruling that is under appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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