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Judge Urges Settlement Talks in Epic Games vs. Google Antitrust Battle

 |  November 29, 2023

In a recent development in the ongoing antitrust lawsuit between Epic Games, the Cary-based creator of the global gaming phenomenon Fortnite, and tech giant Google, federal Judge James Donato has ordered both parties to engage in settlement discussions. The primary bone of contention revolves around Google’s ban of Epic’s megahit Fortnite from its platform.

During Tuesday’s proceedings at the federal court in San Francisco, Judge Donato directed Epic’s lead attorney, Gary Bornstein, to initiate discussions with Google regarding a potential settlement. The judge pointed out that Spotify, another tech heavyweight, manages to negotiate a billing rate of either 4 percent or 0 percent and operates with its own billing system. Addressing Bornstein, Judge Donato emphasized the need for clarity, stating, “you need to be clear with your client who’s sitting behind you [Epic CEO and majority owner Tim Sweeney] that [settlement negotiations are] going to happen.”

According to coverage by The Verge, Bornstein responded by stating that no settlement discussions had taken place yet. When pressed by the judge on Epic’s stance in the event of a victory, Bornstein conveyed Epic’s desire for developers, including itself, to have the freedom to introduce their own stores without restrictions. Epic also seeks “total freedom” to utilize its own billing system, coupled with an “anti-circumvention provision” against Google.

Related: Epic & Match’s Antitrust Case Against Google Heads To Jury Trial November

Reporter Sean Hollister, covering the trial for The Verge, noted that Epic’s request essentially aims for more autonomy for developers on Google’s platform. Hollister reported that the judge asserted, “We don’t do don’t break the law injunctions… if you have a problem, you can come back.”

The antitrust lawsuit highlights the broader debate surrounding the control tech giants exert over app distribution and billing systems. As the legal battle unfolds, the industry and users alike are watching closely to see how this high-stakes clash between Epic Games and Google will shape the future landscape of app ecosystems and developer freedoms.

The court will remain a battleground for these tech titans, with the outcome potentially influencing policies and practices within the tech industry at large.

Source: The Verge