Three years after Fortnite-maker Epic Games sued Apple and Google for allegedly running illegal app store monopolies, Epic has a win. The jury in Epic v. Google has just delivered its verdict — and it found that Google turned its Google Play app store and Google Play Billing service into an illegal monopoly.
The jury unanimously answered yes to every question put before them — that Google has monopoly power in the Android app distribution markets and in-app billing services markets, that Google did anticompetitive things in those markets, and that Epic was injured by that behavior. They decided Google has an illegal tie between its Google Play app store and its Google Play Billing payment services, too, and that its distribution agreement, Project Hug deals with game developers and deals with OEMs were anticompetitive too.
Mind you, we don’t know what Epic has actually won quite yet — that’s up to Judge James Donato, who’ll decide what the appropriate remedies might be. Epic never sued for monetary damages; it wants the court to tell Google that every app developer has total freedom to introduce its own app stores and its own billing systems on Android, and we don’t yet know how or even whether the judge might grant those wishes.
Judge Donato has already stated that he will not grant Epic’s additional request for an anti-circumvention provision “just to be sure Google can’t reintroduce the same problems through some alternative creative solution,” as Epic lead attorney Gary Bornstein put it on November 28th.
“We don’t do don’t-break-the-law injunctions… if you have a problem, you can come back,” Donato said. He also said he did not intend to decide what percentage fee Google should charge for its products.
Although Epic didn’t sue for damages, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney suggested Epic stood to make hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars if it doesn’t have to pay Google’s fee.
Here’s the verdict form that jurors had to fill out in Epic v. Google:
We’ll replace it with the final signed form once we have access to a digital copy.
It’s quite likely that Google will appeal this case; we’ll update this story once we hear.