Google’s Android app store monopoly violates antitrust law, jury finds

Artist's conception of Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney jumping for joy at news of the verdict.

Enlarge / Artist’s conception of Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney jumping for joy at news of the verdict. (credit: Epic Games)

While Epic’s antitrust arguments against Google had many similarities to those in the company’s earlier case against Apple, the verdicts could not have been more different. A federal jury took only a few hours of deliberation Monday afternoon to determine that Google had an illegal monopoly in the markets for Android app distribution and in-app billing services.

The jury unanimously answered “yes” to all 11 questions on the verdict form, indicating that Epic had proven those monopolies existed in every worldwide market except for China. Google “engaged in anticompetitive conduct” to establish or maintain the monopoly and illegally tied the Google Play store to the use of Google Play billing, according to the verdict. The jury also agreed with Epic’s arguments that programs like “Project Hug” and agreements signed with Android phone OEMs represented an “unreasonable restraint on trade,” harming Epic in the process.

With the verdict set, U.S. District Judge James Donato will hold hearings next month to determine the best way to remedy Google’s anticompetitive monopoly power. During the trial, Epic did not ask for monetary damages, but did ask that it and other developers be able to introduce their own Android app stores and use their own billing systems on Android devices “without restriction.”

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