Home News Judge Orders Google to Calculate Costs of Epic’s Major Play Store Demand

Judge Orders Google to Calculate Costs of Epic’s Major Play Store Demand

Judge Orders Google to Calculate Costs of Epic’s Major Play Store Demand

In a significant development in the ongoing legal battle between Epic Games and Google, U.S. District Judge James Donato has ordered Google to calculate the costs associated with Epic Games’ demands for changes to the Play Store. This order comes as part of a broader antitrust lawsuit where Epic Games has challenged Google’s practices, alleging that they stifle competition and maintain an unlawful monopoly over the Android app distribution market.

Background of the Legal Dispute

The legal conflict began in August 2020 when Epic Games sued Google, claiming that the tech giant’s policies regarding the Play Store were anti-competitive. The lawsuit was prompted by Google’s removal of Epic’s popular game, Fortnite, from the Play Store after Epic introduced a direct payment system to bypass Google’s 30% commission fee.

Epic’s Demands

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Epic Games has put forward several demands that, if implemented, could significantly alter the landscape of the Android app market:

  1. Freedom to Use Third-Party App Stores: Epic seeks the ability for developers to operate their own app stores on Android without restrictions from Google. This would allow more competition in the app distribution space, potentially lowering costs for developers and consumers.
  2. Alternative Billing Systems: Another major demand is the freedom for developers to use their own billing systems for in-app purchases, bypassing Google’s commission fees. This change could reduce the cost burden on developers and potentially lower prices for consumers.
  3. Anti-Circumvention Provisions: Epic requested an anti-circumvention provision to prevent Google from finding alternative ways to reintroduce restrictive practices. However, Judge Donato dismissed this request, stating that the court does not grant injunctions based on hypothetical future violations.

Court Proceedings and Settlement Talks

Judge Donato has ordered both parties to engage in settlement talks before the jury delivers its verdict. Epic has been instructed to file detailed and specific demands by December 2, with Google required to respond comprehensively by December 4. A settlement conference involving top executives and lead attorneys from both companies will take place before the jury concludes the trial.

Implications of the Case

The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for the tech industry, particularly concerning how app stores operate. A victory for Epic could lead to more competitive practices in the app distribution market, reducing the dominance of major platforms like Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Analysts suggest that a reduction in the 30% commission fee, which has been a contentious issue, could be one of the significant outcomes of this legal battle​​.

Expert Opinions

Industry experts believe that the verdict in favor of Epic could provide additional leverage in similar cases against Apple, as both companies have been accused of monopolistic practices in their respective app stores. The potential reduction in commission fees and the introduction of alternative billing systems could benefit developers and consumers alike, though it may also introduce new challenges related to app discoverability and security​​.

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