By Malathi Nayak
Alphabet Inc. Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai is set to be called by Epic Games Inc. to testify in an antitrust trial over Google Play policies that could threaten billions of dollars in revenue generated by the app marketplace.
Pichai and Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney have been listed as witnesses in a trial scheduled to start Nov. 6 in San Francisco federal court over whether Google Play policies are unlawful and thwart competition, according to court filings. The high-stakes fight kicked off after Epic sued Alphabet’s Google in 2020 claiming that its app store’s distribution, payment and fee policies are unlawful.
The dispute is part of a sprawling antitrust fight that also includes complaints filed by attorneys general of almost three dozen states, consumers and Match Group Inc., all of whom accuse Google of acting like a monopolist.
Pichai is also scheduled to testify in coming weeks in the ongoing Washington trial in a suit brought by the US Justice Department accusing Alphabet of maintaining a monopoly in web search.
Last month, Alphabet tentatively settled claims in complaints brought by consumers and state attorneys general that Google Play abuses its control over Android mobile applications. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed in court filings. The settlement, if finalized, would narrow the sweeping antitrust fight, leaving Google to defend against Epic and Match’s claims that it used monopoly power to crush rivals in the Android app distribution market.
Pichai is expected to be questioned at the witness stand for an hour by Epic’s lawyers on topics including Android business practices and Google’s agreements with wireless carriers and mobile device makers, Thursday’s court filings show. Google’s lawyers may separately call Pichai to the witness stand for 30 minutes to defend its app marketplace policies.
Epic and Google’s attorneys plan to call Sweeney to the witness stand for 90 minutes each. His testimony will cover Epic’s Games Store business and the game maker’s experience with Google Play and Android.
The case is In Re Google Play Store Antitrust Litigation, 21-md-02981, US District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
First Published: Oct 7 2023 | 6:55 AM IST