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Google criticized for ‘bribery and blocking’ tactics as app store antitrust trial begins

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“Fortnite” maker Epic Games accused Google of using a two-pronged “bribery and blocking” scheme to stifle competition in its Play Store at the start of a federal antitrust trial, adding another headache for the giant. technology that faces a historic battle for its supposed monopoly on search.

Epic attorney Gary Bornstein claimed that Google makes payments to its competitors to prevent the creation of alternative app stores during opening arguments in San Francisco on Monday.

At the same time, Google reportedly prevents potential rivals from offering their own payment systems and makes it difficult for them to offer apps through other means, even as it takes up to 30% of in-app purchases made through its Play Store. -Bornstein argued-.

“The result of what Google is doing is higher prices, lower quality and fewer options for everyone,” Bornstein told the ten-person jury.

The case is the latest sign of growing legal scrutiny over Google’s business practices. The Justice Department’s unique effort to dismantle Google’s search empire is underway in Washington, DC.

The Big Tech giant also faces separate federal antitrust investigations into its digital advertising dominance and mapping business.

Bornstein highlighted the dominance of Google’s Play Store, which reportedly accounts for more than 90% of all Android software apps downloaded in the U.S. The Play Store generates more than $12 billion in operating profits.

Google faces a second major antitrust trial.
AP

Google’s legal team responded during its opening argument, pointing out the existence of Apple’s App Store. Additionally, some major apps, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, debuted exclusively on the App Store.

“Because Google faces strong competition from Apple and others, it cannot and is not a monopoly,” said Google lawyer Glenn Pomerantz.

The dispute between Google and Epic Games came to a head in 2020. At that time, the “Fortnite” maker enabled a feature that allowed customers to pay the company directly instead of through the company’s payment systems. App store required by Google and Apple.

Both tech giants responded by banning “Fortnite” from their app stores, prompting a legal challenge from Epic. A separate trial between Epic and Apple resulted in a split verdict in 2021 that largely favored Apple, although both companies lobbied the Supreme Court to take up the case.

A 10-person jury will decide who wins the Google v. Epic. That’s a major difference from the Justice Department’s case targeting Google’s search empire, which will be decided by one person: Judge Amit Mehta.

Epic Games is best known as the creator of the popular video game “Fortnite.”
AFP via Getty Images

The trial has some big names on its witness list, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and CFO Ruth Porat and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney among those set to testify. The trial is expected to last approximately four weeks.

Epic moved forward with its legal challenge after Google parent company Alphabet reached a settlement last week with another plaintiff, Match Group. Google also reached a settlement with a group of state attorneys general who had joined the lawsuit.

After the Match deal was announced, Sweeney tweeted that “Epic will go to trial against Google alone.”

Epic is seeking a court order forcing Google to stop anti-competitive practices within its app store.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai will testify.
AP

In a blog post published on the eve of the trial, Wilson White, Google’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, described Epic’s claims about alleged anti-competitive practices as “baseless.”

“The truth is that Epic simply wants all the benefits that Android and Google Play offer without having to pay for them.” white said.

With postal cables

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