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Fortnite maker Epic kicks off UK lawsuit against Google

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James Titcomb
·2-min read
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Fortnite was removed from the Google Play Store last year - Shuttershock
Fortnite was removed from the Google Play Store last year - Shuttershock

The company behind Fortnite is suing Google in the UK for allegedly violating competition laws by monopolising how Android smartphone users can download and pay for apps.

Epic Games said it had recently served the internet giant with legal papers, the latest in its worldwide effort to force Google to cease what it says is anti-competitive behaviour related to its Android app store.

It is the third country in which Epic has sued Google for allegedly abusing a monopoly over how apps are downloaded on Android phones, following similar challenges in Australia and the US.

The company is running a separate legal campaign against Apple but has been prevented from suing the iPhone maker in the UK due to legal differences in how Google and Apple are structured.

Fortnite, one of the world’s biggest video games, was barred from both Apple and Google’s app stores last year after it bypassed the two companies’ payment systems, which force apps to pay a commission of up to 30pc for digital items.

Epic claims this hurts app developers and amounts to the company abusing a monopoly. While there are alternatives to Google’s Play Store, the company often ties phone manufacturers to contracts ensuring the store is automatically installed on most Android devices.

Epic filed with the Competition Appeals Tribunal in late December seeking legal permission to sue both Google and Apple, saying it was not seeking monetary damages but wanted orders forcing them to allow alternative payment methods and app stores.

It was allowed to proceed with the Google case in February, but was told its case against Apple belonged in the US courts where it has a similar claim. The US trial is due to start next month, and a UK case against Apple could be resumed depending on its outcome.

Last week, Epic said it had filed a complaint with the Competition and Markets Authority, which is investigating how Apple runs its App Store.

Google said: "The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. W

"While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play."