An Android app developer has sued Google for allegedly anticompetitive and unlawful practices related to its Google Play app store, and attorneys say its behavior – 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 supracompetitive 30% transaction fee,” in Google Play, its marketplace for Android OS apps.
If you are you an Android app developer who sold an app or in-app digital product through the Google Play store, you may have rights to relief due to Google’s monopoly. Find out your rights to potential compensation.
Unnaturally high fees for payment processing also attach to the sale of digital products made in-app, such as consumables in games, as well as to certain subscriptions sold in-app. Under these practices, 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 behavior, 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. Google’s abuse of its power regarding Google Play is part of the behavior that led Europe to fine Google a record fine of about $5.1 billion.
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.
“At the forefront of taking on Big Tech monopolies”
“For years, Google has gotten away with widespread anticompetitive 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 behavior that harms app developers, and for consumers, we have filed suit against Amazon as to its monopolistic behavior 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,” Berman said.
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 monopolizing its control: “…the CEO of Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet, has admitted that Google’s supracompetitive transaction fee is anything but an outcome of competition. Instead, it has 'been the industry standard'—in other words, it is what Google’s fellow monopolist Apple imposes in its parallel, closed iOS universe, so Google imposes it its own Android sphere,” the suit states.
The firm also represents consumers against Amazon for its antitrust behavior 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.
“Its overbearing contracts and practices steal oxygen even from well-resourced competitors such as Amazon, robbing the marketplace of innovative means of distributing apps at lower costs to developers,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit seeks to recoup losses suffered by Android app developers for the monetary injuries they have suffered due to Google’s anticompetitive 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.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is one of the largest and most renowned plaintiff-side class-action law firms in the country, with offices nationwide. The firm’s tenacious advocacy for plaintiffs has earned it numerous national accolades, including “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” and consistent rankings among a handful of elite plaintiffs’ law firms. More about our law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.