Jury decides against Google’s app store in antitrust lawsuit 

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A federal jury in California sided with “Fortnite” maker Epic Games in the company’s antitrust lawsuit against Google’s Android App Store, finding the store violated antitrust laws and was illegally protected from competition.

The jury in San Diego reached a unanimous verdict on Monday night after nearly three hours of deliberation following a weeks-long trial over the payment system of Google’s Play Store, which is used by hundreds of millions of people to download apps for smartphones that use Google’s Android software.

The jury found for Epic Games on all 11 questions it was asked to evaluate, including over the existence of an antitrust market, Google’s anticompetitive conduct, and if Google’s violation of antitrust laws injured Epic Games.

The verdict caps off a three-year legal battle between Epic Games and Google after the game developing company accused Google of shielding its Play Store from competition to continue making billions in profits, The Associated Press reported. Google collects a commission anywhere from 15 percent to 30 percent on digital purchases within apps, the news wire said.

Google has argued the commissions help make up for the over $40 billion the company has spent to build the Android software which it began giving to manufacturers in 2007 to compete with Apple’s iPhone, the AP reported.

Google lawyer Jonathan Kravis told the court Android phones cannot compete against the iPhone “without a great App Store on them,” and that “the competition between the app stores is tied to the competition between the phones,” per The AP.

In a similar lawsuit brought against Apple by Epic Games in 2021, a judge ruled in Apple’s favor, ruling the tech giant is not an illegal monopoly, but rather has engaged in illegal anti-competitive conduct. Like Google, Apple collects a commission on payments made within apps.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney celebrated the victory, writing on X, formerly Twitter, “Victory over Google!” and called the verdict a “win for all app developers and consumers around the world,” in a company memo.

“It [the verdict] proves that Google’s app store practices are illegal and they abuse their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition and reduce innovation,” Sweeney wrote.

Monday’s verdict could have wide-reaching implications for app store rules in the future where developers could see greater control over the distribution of their apps and the profits collected from them, Reuters reported. This could also see Google lose billions in annual profit from Play Store commissions.

In a statement shared with The Hill, Wilson White, Google’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, said the company is planning to appeal 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,” White wrote.

U.S. District Judge James Donato is expected to decide on the remedies of the case in January, The AP reported.

Updated at 10:50 pm.

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