Epic Games has been fighting Google since 2020, and now the jury has reached a verdict in the case. The Fortnite maker has managed to prove a violation of antitrust laws by Google.
As reported by The Verge, the jury in the Epic v. Google case delivered its verdict on December 11. It unanimously agreed on every question related to Google’s alleged antitrust practices, ruling that the company:
- Created an illegal monopoly in the Android app distribution and in-app billing services markets worldwide (excluding China), while also “engaging in anticompetitive conduct” in any of those markets;
- Entered into “one or more agreements that unreasonable restrained trade in a relevant antitrust market” — this includes deals under the so-called Project Hug campaign that were aimed at making app developers stay on the Play Store, as well as agreements with OEM manufacturers of mobile devices;
- Had an unlawful tie between the Google Play Store and its Google Play Billing payment systems.
“Today’s verdict is a win for all app developers and consumers around the world,” Epic Games said in a blog post. “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’s CEO Tim Sweeney thanked everyone for their “support and faith,” declaring, “Free Fortnite” in a post on X (formerly Twitter).
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
Despite Epic’s victorious stance, the case is not over, as Judge James Donate will discuss potential remedies with both parties in January. The Fortnite maker wants every developer to have total freedom to launch its own app stores and billing systems within the Android ecosystem.
Google, for its part, plans to appeal the jury’s verdict. “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,” the company’s affairs and public policy VP Wilson White told The Verge. “We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and the broader Android ecosystem.”
Interestingly, the verdict in the Epic v. Google case is drastically different from that in a similar legal fight that the Fortnite maker had with Apple. In September 2021, Apple won nine of ten counts in an antitrust suit. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that it must allow independent third-party payment systems on iOS, but refused to ultimately recognize the App Store as a monopoly.