Lawsuit

Android App Developers Sue Google

Lawsuit Claims Play Store Illegally Monopolises Markets for Android App Distribution and In-App Payment Processing, Violates Antitrust Laws

An Android app developer has sued Google for allegedly anti-competitive and unlawful practices related to its Google Play app store, and attorneys say its behaviour – which gives rise to U.S. Android developers having to pay it exorbitant fees – constitutes violation of federal antitrust laws, according to Hagens Berman.

The proposed national class-action lawsuit spotlights Google’s “ongoing abuse of its market power, including the exclusion of competition, the stifling of innovation, the inhibition of consumer choice, and Google’s imposition on app developers of a supra-competitive 30% transaction fee,” in Google Play, its marketplace for Android OS apps.

If an app sold in Google Play or a digital product sold in a Google Play app costs $1.99, then Google, with its default fee, takes nearly $.60.

Attorneys say that Google, in an improper exercise of its overwhelming market power, extracts more money from developers than they should have to pay for the distribution of Android OS apps and add-ons sold via in-app purchase.

“This high fee artificially raises the price of the products sold there,” the suit states. “But for Google’s exclusionary behavior, the Android app market would have more, and more meaningful and effective, competition.”

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Aug. 17, 2020, and states that Google – which is no stranger to antitrust lawsuits – has engaged in rampant antitrust behaviour, including anti-competitive contracts, strategic abuses of its dominance in other Android apps, the exploitation of deficits in consumer knowledge, and the cultivation and exploitation of malware fears to promote the Play Store.

The lawsuit states Google has improperly attained and maintained a monopoly in the U.S. market for Android OS distribution services and in-app product payment processing services.

“For years, Google has gotten away with widespread anti-competitive practices that hold app developers hostage and rob them of profits they would otherwise receive for their work product,” said Steve Berman, managing partner and co-founder of Hagens Berman.

“We have taken on Google and Apple for what we believe to be improper and unlawful behaviour that harms app developers, and for consumers, we have filed suit against Amazon as to its monopolistic behaviour that have driven up the cost of essential goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Hagens Berman is at the forefront of taking on Big Tech monopolies,”

Hagens Berman has also filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple on behalf of iOS app developers using the Apple App Store to distribute their mobile apps, and that suit accuses Apple of acting in similar fashion to Google in monopolising its control:

We believe that Google’s improper attainment and maintenance of monopolies in the markets for Android OS distribution and in-app payment processing services violate federal antitrust and California unfair-competition laws, and your rights as a U.S. developer. The suit challenges Google’s ongoing abuse of its market power, including the exclusion of competition.  Developers are harmed when they have to pay more than what the market would bear absent anti-competitive behaviour.  Innovation also suffers, as does competition more broadly.

The firm also represents consumers against Amazon for its antitrust behaviour and overcharging purchasers for essential goods in the midst of COVID-19.

According to the lawsuit filed this week against Google, the tech giant has bundled its app store with other must-have apps, leading to Google Play being pre-installed on tens of millions of U.S. devices every year. It bans the distribution of other Android app-sale clients in Google Play, a move attorneys say is nothing but anti-competitive in its purpose.

Through these and other measures, the suit says, Google uses its power to stifle competition to the detriment of Android app developers.

We believe that developers who work hard to design, build, and sell their own apps and in-app digital products should not be harmed by unfair or anti-competitive behavior from big tech companies. Our legal team continues to investigate your rights pertaining to Google Play distribution and payment-processing services.

The lawsuit seeks to recoup losses suffered by Android app developers for the monetary injuries they have suffered due to Google’s anti competitive monopoly in the distribution and payment processing the plaintiff has identified. The suit also seeks treble damages and injunctive relief against Google for its violation of federal antitrust laws.

Interested developers can find out more about the class action lawsuit here.

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