Dec 12, 2023 2 min read

Epic wins its app store rule legal battle against Google

Fortnite owner Epic Games has won in its legal battle over Google’s app store policies, which may force a change to the rules around in-app payments - though the web giant will appeal the judgement

Epic wins its app store rule legal battle against Google

Fortnite owner Epic Games has won its court battle with Google over the web giant's app store rules, which will likely force a change of those rules in the new year.

The CEO of the gaming company, Tim Sweeney, declared on Twitter: "Victory over Google! After four weeks of detailed court testimony, the California jury found against the Google Play monopoly on all counts. The court’s work on remedies will start in January. Thanks for everyone’s support and faith! Free Fortnite!"

Epic, like Spotify and many other app makers, has long complained about the rules enforced by Apple and Google on their respective app stores and mobile operating systems. In particular, rules that force in-app payments to be taken on Apple and Google's commission charging transaction platforms, rather than the app makers’ own where they don't have to pay any commissions or fees.

Both Epic and Spotify argue that those rules are anti-competitive, and to that end have sought to force a change to said rules through both lobbying and litigation. Epic sued both Apple and Google in the US. In the Apple case, the judge mainly sided with the tech giant. But in the Google case a jury was involved and they sided with Epic.

Spotify has mainly focused on trying to persuade regulators around the world to force Apple and Google to make changes to their rules. Although, actually, the music service managed to negotiate a compromise with Google, details of which were revealed during the Epic court case.

Google has already vowed to appeal yesterday's Epic ruling. Its VP Of Government Affairs And Public Policy, Wilson White, said: "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".

It remains to be seen quite what changes this ruling forces on Google, in the US at least. Both Google and Apple have been slowly making changes to their respective rules in recent years, in part in response to pressure from regulators.

From a music perspective, removing the rules around in-app payments would allow companies like Spotify to start signing up premium subscribers from within their apps again, but might also encourage and enable the addition of more direct-to-fan transaction tools within those apps as well.

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