Epic win: Jury decides Google has illegal monopoly in app store fight

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After just a few hours of deliberation, 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 all anticompetitive.

Google affairs and public policy vp Wilson White said the company plans to appeal the verdict, and that “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.” You can read theirfull statement further down.

In a post on its company blog, Epic Games said, “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.”

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. Both parties will meet with Judge Donato in the second week of January to discuss potential remedies.

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 completed verdict form that jurors had to fill out in Epic v. Google:

Wilson White, Google VP, Government Affairs & Public Policy:

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.”

Update December 11th, 8:45PM ET: Added statements from both Google and Epic Games as well as final jury verdict.



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