Bloomberg | | Posted by Singh Rahul Sunilkumar
Alphabet Inc. Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai on Tuesday is set to face a jury to defend Google Play app store policies that are at the heart of a high-stakes antitrust fight with Epic Games Inc.
Epic, which makes the popular Fortnite game, plans to call Pichai on Tuesday to testify in San Francisco federal court for the trial that began Nov. 6, an Epic spokeswoman told Bloomberg News. The fight kicked off after Epic sued Alphabet’s Google in 2020 claiming that its app store’s distribution, payment and fee policies are anticompetitive.
Pichai’s testimony will be crucial as Alphabet faces claims by Epic that the company abuses its app market power and stands to lose billions in revenue if its app store policies are upended. He made a courtroom appearance less than two weeks ago on the witness stand in a landmark Washington trial over the US Justice Department’s claims that the company’s search business thwarts competition.
Epic lawyers will likely press Pichai on Google Play and Android operations, Google’s deals with developers and phone makers and the company’s agreements and relationship with Apple, among other topics, according to a court filing last month that said he could be questioned for up to an hour.
Google’s attorneys plan to question him for 30 minutes on how Google Play policies and business practices are justified as they promote competition, and on Google’s counterclaims that the game maker breached its contract and acted in bad faith when it tried to set up its own app store as an end-run around the Google Play billing system.
The trial is scheduled to run until early December and is also expected to feature testimony from Epic CEO Tim Sweeney.
The case is In Re Google Play Store Antitrust Litigation, 21-md-02981, US District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).