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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Google tentatively settles states’ Play Store antitrust suit

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has tentatively settled a suit claiming that Google Play had abused its control over Android mobile applications.  (New York Times)
By Joel Rosenblatt </p><p>and Malathi Nayak Bloomberg

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

The deal was disclosed in a court filing 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. Details of the settlement, including how much Google will pay, weren’t disclosed in the filing.

The settlement, if finalized, would narrow a sweeping antitrust lawsuit by Epic Games, Match Group, attorneys general and consumers alleging Alphabet unlawfully abused its power over the sale and distribution of apps through Google Play.

A trial covering all the complainants would put at risk billions of dollars in revenue generated by Google Play.

If the settlement is rejected by the judge, both sides will be “returned to their respective litigation positions,” according to the filing.

The parties proposed reporting on the status of the deal at an Oct. 12 hearing.

Even if the deal is finalized, it won’t end the legal fight.

There would still be a trial Nov. 6 over separate claims by Epic and Match that Google Play app distribution, payment and fee policies are unlawful.

But the potential settlement means Google will avoid a trial in which 21 million users sought damages in an antitrust suit, claiming they were overcharged in the company’s app marketplace.

In July, U.S. District Judge James Donato in San Francisco rescinded his order granting the plaintiffs class-action status that would have allowed the case to advance as a group lawsuit.

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 anticompetitive tactics to block competition and ensure that developers have no choice but to go through the Google Play store to reach users.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment. Lawyers representing consumers and state attorneys general didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.