App store monopoly: Epic Games is suing Google as well as Apple

In addition to Apple, the game developer Epic Games is also suing Google for monopoly practices in its app store. Epic Games is reacting to the blocking of its well-known game “Fortnite” in the app stores of the two duopoly for smartphone operating systems. Both lawsuits were filed Thursday in the U.S. Federal District Court for Northern California.

Both lawsuits rely on federal antitrust law and its California counterpart, the California Cartwright Act. Epic brings ten counts against Apple and eleven against Google. The statements differ in detail, but the allegations are essentially similar: Apple and Google respectively would illegally maintain their respective app sales monopoly by imposing numerous technical and contractual restrictions that are not conducive to competition.

Epic Games also disagrees with the fact that participation in the Apple and Google app stores requires the use of the exceptionally expensive payment processing services of the respective group, which in turn are subject to numerous conditions. Apple and Google usually charge 30 percent fees, while other providers would be satisfied with less than three percent. And while the lawsuit accuses Apple of banning the establishment of an alternative app store, Google is accused of contractually restricting cell phone manufacturers from pre-installing competing app stores on the devices.

The claims are exactly the same: the court should order the respective defendant to cease anti-competitive behavior and to take all necessary steps to restore competition. In addition, the clauses in contracts that are alleged to be unlawful are to be declared unlawful and inapplicable – not just to Epic, but to all app operators. What Epic specifically does not ask for is damages and punitive damages.

The procedures are called Epic Games v. Apple (Az. 3: 20-cv-05640) respectively Epic Games v. Google, Google Ireland, Google Commerce, Google Asia Pacific et Google Payment (Ref. 3: 20-CV-05671) and are pending in the US District Court Northern California.


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