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Epic Games has won in court against Google

While Epic has not filed a lawsuit for damages, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney suggested that Epic could make hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars if it doesn’t have to pay Google.

Three years after Fortnite maker Epic Games sued Apple and Google, accusing them of having an illegal monopoly on app shops, Epic has finally won. The jury in the Epic vs Google case reached their verdict today – they concluded that Google turned its Google Play app shop and Google Play Billing service into an illegal monopoly.

After several hours of deliberation, the jury unanimously answered “yes” to all the questions put to them – that Google had monopoly power in the markets for Android app distribution and billing services, that Google had acted anticompetitively in those markets, and that Epic had suffered from that behaviour. They decided that Google was illegally bundling its Google Play app shop and Google Play Billing services, and that its distribution agreement, Project Hug deals with game developers, and deals with OEMs were anticompetitive.

Google’s vice president of public affairs Wilson White said the company plans to appeal the verdict, and that “the trial has made it clear that we compete fiercely with Apple and its App Store, as well as app shops on Android devices and game consoles.”

Epic Games wrote on its blog, “Today’s verdict is a victory for all app developers and consumers around the world. It proves that Google’s app shop practices are illegal and they are abusing their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition, and reduce innovation.”

It’s a historic victory, especially because Epic basically lost its fight with Apple two years ago when Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that the fight had nothing to do with apps.

But Epic’s case against Google turned out to be quite different. It involved secret revenue-sharing deals between Google, smartphone makers, and big game developers that Google executives internally believed were designed to hold back competitors in the app shops. The case showed that it was Epic that Google feared. And it was all decided by a jury, unlike the Apple decision.

We don’t yet know exactly what Epic won – that will be decided by Judge James Donato, who will determine what the appropriate consequences will be. Epic wasn’t asking for monetary compensation – it wanted the court to tell Google that every app developer has complete freedom to introduce their own app shops and their own billing systems on Android, and we don’t yet know how or even if the judge can grant those wishes. Both sides will meet with Judge Donato in the second week of January to discuss possible remedies.

Judge Donato has already said he will not grant Epic’s additional request for an anti-circumvention provision “just to make sure that Google can’t create the same problems again with some alternative creative solution,” as Epic’s lead attorney Gary Bornstein put it on 28 November.

“We don’t do ‘no trespassing’ injunctions … If you have a problem, you can come back,” Donato said. He also said he wasn’t going to decide what percentage Google should charge for its products.

While Epic has not filed a lawsuit for damages, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney suggested that Epic could make hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars if it doesn’t have to pay Google.

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