Google CEO testifies in antitrust trial as Epic Games accuses tech giant of abusive practices

Date:

Updated: 4:09 AM, Wed November 15, 2023

Google CEO Assists in Antitrust Trial as Epic Games Accuses Tech Giant of Abusive Practices

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, testified on Tuesday as a witness in the antitrust trial between the company and Fortnite developer Epic Games. Epic Games has accused the internet search giant of engaging in abusive and monopolistic practices through its app store. The outcome of the trial could potentially lead to changes in the business and distribution model of Google’s Play store, which currently dominates the market for Android app downloads.

During the trial, Pichai denied allegations made by Epic Games that Google intentionally stifles competition. He emphasized Google’s mission to provide universal access to information and praised the unprecedented success of Android as a free and open operating system that has reached over two and a half billion users.

Pichai’s testimony addressed important issues such as the sideloading of apps, which refers to downloading apps from sources other than the official Google Play store. He also discussed the fees imposed by the Play store.

One point of contention in the trial has been Google’s policy of not retaining chat histories, which Epic Games claims is an attempt to hide evidence. Pichai stated that he personally adheres to retention instructions for emails, documents, and chat logs. However, Judge James Donato expressed dissatisfaction with Google when Epic Games demonstrated that Google employees had deleted chats either unintentionally or deliberately after Epic placed an evidentiary hold on Google’s records. As a result, the judge has demanded that Google’s chief legal officer appear in court on Thursday to explain the company’s policies.

Pichai also confirmed that Google pays Apple a significant 36% revenue share every year to maintain its position as Safari’s default search engine. The disclosure of this figure came after a top economist for Alphabet, Google’s parent company, revealed it on the witness stand, despite Google’s attempts to keep the information confidential.

Epic Games’ allegations revolve around Google’s alleged illegal monopolization of the Android app distribution market, which they argue stifles consumer choice, forces developers to pay fees to Google, and prevents rival companies from launching their own app stores. Google has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and claims that its dominance in Android downloads is a result of successful business practices and competition with Apple’s app store. In turn, Google has filed a counter-suit against Epic Games for breach of contract.

This high-profile trial adds to Google’s ongoing legal battles challenging its business models and market dominance. The company is currently defending itself in a separate antitrust trial initiated by the US Department of Justice, which accuses Google of illegally establishing a monopoly over internet search and web advertising.

Epic Games’ lawyers argue that Google’s Play store, which charges a 15% cut of subscription-based app purchases made on Android, or a 30% cut for developers earning over $1 million in annual revenue, has created a system where developers must pay Google or risk being excluded from the market. Additionally, Epic Games’ lawyers claim that Google has negotiated special agreements with certain services, like Spotify, to retain their business, while disregarding similar agreements with Epic Games. It is also alleged that Google has made deals with developers such as Activision to prevent them from creating their own app stores, further limiting competition.

Throughout the trial’s first week, Epic Games’ lawyers have presented evidence suggesting that Google attempted to conceal its business practices by deleting internal chat logs. These actions resulted in a ruling earlier this year that sanctioned Google for failing to preserve evidence. Epic Games’ legal team has also highlighted complaints from Google executive James Kolotouros, who oversees partnerships with Android device makers, regarding the lack of honesty and integrity within the organization.

Epic Games initially filed the lawsuit in 2020 after both Google and Apple removed the popular game Fortnite from their app stores. The removal followed a dispute stemming from Epic Games’ introduction of a new payment system within Fortnite, designed to bypass the commission fees charged by app stores. In a separate trial against Apple, Epic Games alleged antitrust violations by the iPhone maker, but the ruling largely favored Apple, determining that it did not possess an unfair monopoly. However, the court did find Apple in violation of a California unfair competition law. Both Apple and Epic Games have requested that the supreme court review the case.

Epic Games is not seeking any monetary damages in its case against Google, and a decision is expected to be reached in the coming year. The CEO of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, is also scheduled to testify in the trial in the coming weeks.

Both Google and Epic Games declined to comment on the matter.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to the Above News

When did Google CEO Sundar Pichai appear as a witness in the antitrust trial?

Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared as a witness on Tuesday in the antitrust trial.

Who is accusing Google of abusive practices and monopolistic behavior?

Game developer Epic Games is accusing Google of abusive practices and monopolistic behavior.

What could be the implications of the trial for Google Play?

The outcome of the trial could have significant implications for the business and distribution model of Google Play.

What did Sundar Pichai deny during his testimony?

Sundar Pichai denied Epic Games' allegations that Google intentionally stifles competition.

What is Google's mission according to Pichai?

According to Pichai, Google's mission is to provide universal access to information.

What was the contentious issue regarding chat histories during the trial?

The contentious issue regarding chat histories was Google's policy of not retaining them.

What did Judge James Donato demand from Google?

Judge James Donato demanded that Google's chief legal officer appear in court to explain the company's policies regarding the deletion of chats.

How much does Google pay Apple annually to remain the default search engine on Apple's Safari browser?

Google pays Apple between $18 billion and $20 billion annually to remain the default search engine on Apple's Safari browser.

What are some of the allegations made by Epic Games against Google?

Epic Games alleges that Google has illegally monopolized the Android app distribution market, limited consumer choice, extracted fees from developers, and prevented rival companies from launching their own app stores.

How does Google respond to these allegations?

Google denies any wrongdoing and argues that its dominance in Android downloads is the result of successful competition with Apple's app store.

What other legal battles is Google currently facing?

Google is currently defending itself in a separate antitrust trial brought by the Department of Justice, accusing the company of illegally building a monopoly over internet search and web advertising.

Why did Epic Games file a lawsuit against Google in 2020?

Epic Games filed the lawsuit in 2020 after both Google and Apple removed Fortnite from their app stores due to a dispute over payment systems.

Is Epic Games seeking monetary damages in its case against Google?

No, Epic Games is not seeking monetary damages in its case against Google.

When is a verdict expected in the trial against Google?

A verdict in the trial against Google is expected next year. Note: This information is based on the news article published and is subject to change as the trial progresses.

Please note that the FAQs provided on this page are based on the news article published. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is always recommended to consult relevant authorities or professionals before making any decisions or taking action based on the FAQs or the news article.

Neha Sharma
Neha Sharma
Neha Sharma is a tech-savvy author at The Reportify who delves into the ever-evolving world of technology. With her expertise in the latest gadgets, innovations, and tech trends, Neha keeps you informed about all things tech in the Technology category. She can be reached at neha@thereportify.com for any inquiries or further information.

Share post:

Subscribe

Popular

More like this
Related

Supreme Court to Determine if Social Media Platforms Have Free Speech Rights, US

Supreme Court to weigh in on whether social media platforms have free speech rights. Decision could shape the future of online expression.

Portugal Braces for Far-Right Surge in Election Upset

Portugal braces for right-wing surge as election campaign unfolds amid corruption scandal and rising populist party Chega.

Huawei Cloud Summit Unveils 10 AI Innovations at MWC Barcelona, Spain

Discover the latest AI innovations unveiled at Huawei Cloud Summit at MWC Barcelona, shaping the future of cloud computing.

Ant Group Outbids Citadel for Credit Suisse’s China Venture, Switzerland

Ant Group outbids Citadel in high-stakes battle for Credit Suisse's China venture. China's fintech giant faces scrutiny as UBS weighs its decision.