Epic Games, the maker of popular mobile game Fortnite, has prevailed in a federal lawsuit brought in San Francisco against Google over anticompetitive practices relating to the company's app store for Android phones.
A jury returned its verdicts Monday, as the Associated Press reports, finding Google liable for all 11 antitrust counts that were filed by North Carolina-based Epic Games — and the verdicts came after just three hours of deliberations following a four-week trial.
The case dates back three years, and in a similar case that Epic brought against Apple, Apple ended up prevailing in a judgement by a single federal judge, though that case is being appealed. Both cases alleged that the companies monopolize mobile billing and app stores generally, creating an anticompetitive market and charging a premium for placement in the stores. Google, like Apple, charges a 15% to 30% commission on app downloads, raking in a ton of passive income this way on all paid apps.
Those commissions have been the subject of boycotts and earlier online protests.
"Today’s verdict is a win for all app developers and consumers around the world. It proves that Google’s app store practices are illegal and they abuse their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition and reduce innovation," said Epic Games in a statement.
Google's affairs and public policy VP Wilson White put out a statement as well saying, "We plan to challenge the verdict. Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform. 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 statement added, "We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and the broader Android ecosystem."
As the New York Times writes, the verdicts from a nine-person jury could presage more strife to come for Google, which faces a major antitrust case brought by the Justice Department over its search-engine dominance. Closing arguments in that case are expected in May, after most of the evidence was heard in September and October.
And Google faces a separate antitrust suit brought in Virginia over its dominance in ad sales.
The outcome of the Epic case is still partly in the hands of U.S. District Judge James Donato, who previously ruled against Google in trying to avoid a jury trial.
As the Verge reports, Epic is hoping that Donato rules that all app developers, like them, should have the ability to introduce their own app stores and billing systems through the Android system — and this could presumably impact things at the Apple App Store as well.
Potential remedies in the case will come after the judge meets with both parties in January, per the Verge, and a financial settlement could be in the cards as well.
Photo: Kai Wenzel