TechSpot means tech analysis and advice you can trust. Read our ethics statement.
What just happened? Typically, when two parties get into legal disputes, the first is to hash out a settlement deal to resolve the lawsuit before bringing it to court. It saves both parties on legal fees and swiftly closes the grievance. It is relatively rare that judges have to order settlement talks, but that is what just happened in the Epic Games v. Google antitrust lawsuit.
On Tuesday, US District Judge James Donato ordered Epic Games and Google to settlement talks outside the jury's presence. The Verge notes that the mandate came after he asked Epic's legal team if it had tried to settle the dispute outside of court. Donato feels that the case is "solvable" and was surprised when lawyers on both sides indicated they had not even attempted to settle out of court.
While it might be puzzling to the judge, it seems evident that Epic was never chasing a settlement. In a nutshell, Tim Sweeney wants Epic and other developers to be free to distribute software on Android platforms without going through the Google Play Store. He wants to set precedence so that other companies can benefit from his lawsuit.
Donato asked Epic's lead attorney, Gary Bornstein, precisely what they would ask for were they to win. Bornstein said they are seeking three things. The freedom for Epic and other developers to introduce unrestricted store apps on the Android platform, the ability to use external payment systems, and "to be sure Google can't reintroduce the same problems through some alternative creative solution."
To that last point, Donato said, "We don't do don't break the law injunctions... if you have a problem, you can come back." In other words, Epic will never win its last request because courts are not for preventing future actions.
As for the other two demands, Donato said they are solvable with a settlement. He ordered Epic lawyers to file its settlement demands by 9 am on Saturday, emphasizing that the filing should be explicit.
"The demand is going to be all-inclusive, detailed, and specific," he said, following with an example. "Spotify pays 4 percent or 0 percent and has its own billing..." Donato also told the legal team, "You need to be clear with your client who's sitting behind you that [settlement negotiations are] going to happen," seemingly squashing Sweeney's crusade even though he appeared stoic.
He also informed Google's team that it needs to file a response to Epic's demands by 9 am Monday. Sweeney, a Google representative capable of signing deals, and the lead attorneys on both sides will then have a settlement conference Monday morning before final arguments.