In a landmark decision, the jury in the Epic Games vs Google case has unanimously ruled that Google Play and the Play Billing service constitute an illegal monopoly.
The verdict comes three years after Epic Games initiated legal action against both Apple and Google, accusing them of maintaining unlawful app store monopolies.
The jury – after just a few hours of deliberation – affirmed that Google holds monopoly power in the Android app distribution and in-app billing services markets. Additionally, they found that Google engaged in anticompetitive practices within these markets, causing harm to Epic Games.
The verdict also highlighted an illicit tie between Google’s app store and its billing payment services; labelling various distribution agreements and deals with game developers and OEMs as anticompetitive.
Epic Games celebrated the verdict, stating: “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.”
The company said the trial featured evidence that Google was “willing to pay billions of dollars to stifle alternative app stores by paying developers to abandon their own store efforts and direct distribution plans, and offering highly lucrative agreements with device manufacturers in exchange for excluding competing app stores.
“These deals were meant to cement Google’s dominance as the only app store in town — and it worked. More than 95% of apps are distributed through the Play Store on Android.”
This victory holds significant weight, especially considering Epic Games’ previous legal battle with Apple—which ended in a less favourable outcome two years ago.
While the jury has delivered a decisive judgement, the next steps rest with Judge James Donato who will determine the appropriate remedies.
Epic Games, although not seeking monetary damages, aims for a ruling that grants every app developer the freedom to introduce independent app stores and billing systems on Android.
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