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Google tentatively settles states’ Play Store antitrust suit

Google tentatively settles states’ Play Store antitrust suit
The Google logo in front of Google's Bay View building during a media tour in Mountain View, California, US, 16 May 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / JOHN G. MABANGLO)

Alphabet tentatively settled claims that Google Play abuses its control over Android mobile applications, potentially resolving complaints over the company’s policies filed by consumers and attorneys general of about three dozen states in the US.

The deal was disclosed in a court filing on Tuesday. Lawyers representing Utah’s attorney general, proposed class-action plaintiffs and Google asked a judge to cancel a trial that’s scheduled for early November. If the judge rejects the settlement for any reason, according to the filing, both sides will be “returned to their respective litigation positions”.

Details of the settlement, including how much Google will pay, weren’t disclosed in the filing. The parties proposed reporting on the status of the deal at a hearing on 12 October.

If approved, the settlement means Google will avoid a trial in which 21 million users sought damages in an antitrust lawsuit, claiming they were overcharged in the company’s app marketplace. The tentative deal comes after US District Judge James Donato in San Francisco in July rescinded his order granting the plaintiffs class-action status, meaning the case could advance as a group lawsuit. But the judge said he’d reconsider the matter.

Consumers argued Google inflated Android app prices by taking, with some exceptions, a 30% cut of sales on Google Play. State attorneys general said in their 2021 complaint that Google used anti competitive tactics to block competition and ensure that developers have no choice but to go through the Google Play store to reach users.

Lawyers for the consumers and a Google spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. DM

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