The Verdict Is In and Tim Sweeney Is Celebrating as Epic Games Wins Its Case after a Federal Jury Finds Google in Violation of US Antitrust Laws

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Image: Epic Games

The verdict is in from a federal jury in California regarding Epic v. Google and Tim Sweeney is celebrating a victorious ruling. Epic Games began its legal battle against Google three years ago alleging that it had engaged in monopolistic practices with its Google Play store, Android app distribution, billing services, and dealings with developers. This lawsuit was similar to another filed against Apple but that one didn’t quite have the same outcome as this and was decided upon by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers who found an issue with both Epic Games and Apple. However, this time around a jury unanimously agreed that Epic proved its monopolization case against Google.

Juror answers summary

Below is a summary of the questions asked of jurors who indicated Google’s geographic market as worldwide sans China and Anrdoid as its means of app distribution and billing services.

“Did Epic prove, by a preponderance of the evidence and in accordance with the instructions given to you . . .”

  • The existence of a relevant antitrust market? YES
  • That Google willfully acquired or maintained monopoly power by engaging in anticompetitive conduct in any market that Epic proved? YES
  • That it was injured as a result of Google’s violation of the antitrust laws? YES
  • That Google entered into one or more agreements that unreasonably restrained trade in a relevant antitrust market? YES
  • Unreasonable restraint(s) of trade include DDA agreements, agreements with alleged and potential competitors under “Project Hug” or “Games Velocity Program”, and agreements with OEMs who sell mobile devices which include MADA and RSA agreements.
  • That Google unlawfully tied the use of its Google Play Store to its Google Play Billing? YES

Judge James Donato is still deciding what final steps need to be taken following this verdict and Epic was not seeking damages but to prove (per The Verge) to Google that app developers have the freedom to introduce their own stores and billing systems on Android. Epic has further requested Google be prevented from repeating said practices, or behavior but the Judge said “We don’t do don’t-break-the-law injunctions… if you have a problem, you can come back,” and added he wouldn’t decide what percentage fee Google should be charging for its services. This was also a point of contention with Epic vs Google and Apple. Google has already said (via Engadget) that it plans to challenge the verdict and is already using the loss as a kind of victory by proclaiming it only proves that Google competes “fiercely” with Apple and other app stores.

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. We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and the broader Android ecosystem.

Wilson White (Google VP for Government Affairs and Public Policy)

Meanwhile, Epic Games has wasted no time in celebrating and has posted the following on its own blog. A summary (via The Verge) of both lawsuits can be found here.

Per Epic Games:

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. 

Over the course of 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 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.

Google imposes a 30% 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% 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 evidence presented in this case demonstrates the urgent need for legislation and regulations that address Apple and Google strangleholds over smartphones, including with promising legislation in progress right now with the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill in the UK and the Digital Markets Act in the EU. 

Thank you to the Court for hearing this important case and for the next steps determining the remedies that will right Google’s decades of anticompetitive conduct. 

And thank you to the jury for their historic decision. The one million game developers who couldn’t be here thank you!”

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Peter Brosdahl
As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my dad, a used Atari 400, around 1982. Eventually it would end up being a lifelong passion of upgrading and modifying equipment that, of course, led into a career in IT support.

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