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Epic Games suggests changes to Google’s app store following antitrust victory

Epic Games, the creator of the popular video game “Fortnite,” is urging a federal judge in California to compel Google to increase competition in its Play Store. This request follows a jury’s verdict that found Google had abused its authority as the gatekeeper for apps on the Android platform.

In a court filing submitted to U.S. District Judge James Donato in San Francisco, Epic Games proposed several measures to promote competition in the Play Store. These include requiring Google to allow the distribution of competing third-party app stores for a period of six years and limiting Google’s ability to restrict the preloading of competing app stores on devices.

The court filing comes after Judge Donato oversaw a significant antitrust trial that concluded with a jury ruling against Google in December. This ruling determined that Google had unlawfully hindered developers’ ability to distribute their apps independently of the Play Store and exerted excessive control over in-app transactions.

While Epic Games’ proposal awaits Judge Donato’s consideration, it marks a pivotal moment in Google’s regulation of app developers and users. Although the judge is not obligated to grant Epic’s request, a contentious legal battle is expected before any permanent orders are issued regarding Google’s practices.

Google has maintained its stance on its app store policies, denying any wrongdoing. The company faces a deadline of May 3 to respond to Epic’s proposal. Notably, Epic’s lawsuit against Google did not seek monetary damages.

Epic Games, headquartered in North Carolina, is privately held, with a significant ownership stake held by Tencent, a Chinese multinational conglomerate, and Walt Disney. Meanwhile, Google reached a $700 million settlement in December to address allegations of anticompetitive behavior in its Play Store. As part of the settlement, Google committed to expanding options for app developers to offer alternative billing methods for in-app purchases.

Google has stated its intention to appeal the antitrust jury verdict from December and can also contest any reforms mandated by Judge Donato. Consequently, the legal proceedings surrounding this case could extend over several years.

This legal battle echoes a similar dispute initiated by Epic Games against Apple in 2020 regarding the latter’s control over its App Store. Despite a trial and subsequent appeals, the case against Apple is ongoing.

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