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Google defends app store, fighting Epic Games' bid for major reforms

Published 03/05/2024, 07:09
Updated 03/05/2024, 10:06
© Reuters. Fortnite game installing on Android operating system in this illustration taken, May 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File photo

By Mike Scarcella

(Reuters) - Google has asked a U.S. judge not to impose sweeping changes to the Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) unit's app store Play that were proposed by "Fortnite" maker Epic Games in the companies' closely-watched antitrust fight.

Google made its filing late on Thursday in San Francisco federal court, where Epic last year persuaded a jury that the tech giant unlawfully stifled competition with its controls over apps downloads on Android devices and payments to developers for in-app transactions.

Epic's proposal "would make it nearly impossible for Google to compete," Google's filing said.

The gaming company in March asked U.S. District Judge James Donato in San Francisco to force Google to make it easier for users to download apps from other sources and to allow developers more flexibility in offering and charging for purchases.

The Cary, North Carolina-based company also said it should be allowed to bring its Epic Games Store to Android "without delays and barriers."

A hearing on the proposed injunction is scheduled for May 23.

Epic did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wilson White, Google's head of government affairs and public policy, said in a statement that "Epic’s demands would harm the privacy, security, and overall experience of consumers, developers, and device manufacturers."

In its filing, Google said a related Play store settlement with states and consumers made Epic's bid for an injunction unnecessary. The remedies in that settlement, Google said, "fully address" the alleged anticompetitive conduct Epic presented at trial.

© Reuters. Fortnite game installing on Android operating system in this illustration taken, May 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File photo

In December, Google agreed to pay $700 million to resolve the states' case and, among other reforms, will allow more alternative billing options for in-app purchases.

In another even more far-reaching antitrust case, Google on Thursday squared off for closing trial arguments with the Justice Department and a group of states in a Washington, D.C. courtroom over claims that it unfairly dominates the market for mobile web search.

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