A number of U.S. states have sued Google over alleged efforts to preserve a monopoly in the distribution of Android apps. These suits are similar to the one filed by Epic and others against Apple in federal court in California. In fact, the states have not ruled out taking similar action against both companies. Moreover, the states’ complaints allege anti-competitive policies, opaque communication between developers and customers, and misleading warnings.
37 state and district attorneys have sued Google over alleged efforts to maintain a monopoly in the Android app distribution market
In an unprecedented lawsuit, a group of 37 state and district attorneys have filed a joint complaint against Google over alleged monopolistic practices in the Android app distribution market. The lawsuit accuses Google of abusing its market dominance by preventing competition and promoting its own services and products. It also challenges the practice of charging 30% commission on Android app sales.
The suit accuses Google of using the Android platform to limit competition and restrict access to the Google Play store by requiring device manufacturers to provide premium placement on their platforms. Additionally, it alleges that Google has unlawfully inflated costs of many services and purchases made through Android applications. These practices have hurt small businesses and consumers and must be ended.
The lawsuits were filed on Monday, with 36 states and the District of Columbia joining the group. The states are seeking civil penalties and a court-appointed monitor to ensure Google eases its policies and provides developers with alternatives to its Play Store. It also seeks a cease-and-desist order from the court for Google to cease making payments to developers. The plaintiffs have not ruled out bringing the same lawsuit against Apple.
Despite these efforts, Google has so far escaped suit. The companies involved have agreed to cooperate with the probes and are cooperating with state attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Justice. The lawsuits are ongoing. If successful, the lawsuit could lead to increased competition in the Android app distribution market. The plaintiffs plan to file a civil suit against Google and a separate complaint against Apple in the U.S.
The lawsuits claim that Google is encroaching on a competitive market by shutting out competing app distribution channels and tying its payment processing system to the app distribution channel. These practices lead to higher prices and lower choices for consumers, and the plaintiffs are seeking to halt Google’s anti-competitive behavior and compensate consumers for the damages incurred as a result.
The lawsuits include various allegations of anticompetitive behavior by Google, including preventing competitors from promoting their apps on Google’s search platform and blocking advertising in other apps. This behavior is illegal and a violation of antitrust laws, as it restricts competition. Whether Google is intentionally trying to keep its monopoly in the Android app distribution market is another question.
The plaintiffs argue that Google’s actions to stifle competition in the Android app distribution market result in higher prices for consumers. Currently, Google charges developers a 30 percent service fee for in-app purchases on its Play Store. Google’s payment processing system, Google Play Billing, costs 10 times as much as other payment processors. Without competition, Google would not be able to charge this excessively high commission.
Epic has sued Google separately in federal court in California
A recent article titled “App Store’s 30% in-app purchase commission is anticompetitive” slammed Apple’s policies for apps. This is the same logic that led a group of major newspaper publishers to write to Apple CEO Tim Cook urging a change in the policies. The App Store commission rate is set at 30% for the first year, and at 15% for the next. If it were not, Epic would have released its own app store.
After the discovery period ended, Epic requested a deposition of Forstall. Apple said it did not object to the deposition, but did note that it expected to represent Forstall at the deposition. There was never a suggestion, however, that Apple would compel Forstall to appear in the deposition. While it’s unclear if Epic will be forced to appear at a deposition, the company has maintained a low profile, with only a small number of followers on Twitter.
A hearing date for the case has not been set yet. Epic and Google have requested a trial date of May 2021. They had originally requested a jury trial, but withdrew that request to expedite proceedings. Instead, the parties agreed to a trial date of July 2021, pending the outcome of their legal arguments. If Epic wins, they will be entitled to their money and any damages they’ve suffered.
The company’s first legal response to Epic’s lawsuit was lengthy. Apple had urged the court to deny Epic’s request for an emergency restraining order. Epic also asserted that Apple’s practices were similar to shoplifting. By adding a proprietary payment system, Epic was able to bypass the 30% fee. Moreover, the company argued that Google violated the terms of its contract with Apple and was infringing on Apple’s patent.
The lawsuit argues that Apple’s anti-competitive policies restrict competition, limit consumer freedom, and limit communication between developers and consumers. Additionally, the company notes that Google’s current Play Store policies encroaching upon its customers’ free choice of where to download their apps are illegal. In addition to these policies, Apple also allows customers to avoid the Play Store by displaying misleading warnings.
The companies have separately sued Apple and the Play Store over Epic’s use of its in-app payment processing and distribution system. While the companies’ suit was filed last year, Google’s motion to dismiss Epic’s complaint is nearing completion. A final decision is expected early this year. The lawsuits are an example of how the anti-competitive policies of large tech companies may impact the competition in the future.
The lawsuits are filed in the district of Columbia and California. The plaintiff states claim that Google’s 30% monopoly on the Play Store is excessive compared to other marketplaces. The 30% commission has forced many app makers to increase their prices, making consumers spend more money. But the lawsuits are a step in the right direction for consumers and developers.
California and District of Columbia have sued Apple separately in federal court in Washington
A class action lawsuit filed against the tech giant in federal court in Washington was dismissed on Tuesday, after the defendants denied liability. The case was dismissed on the basis of lack of standing, improper reliance on the Television Patent Reform Act (TVPRA), and that certain civil remedies in the TVPRA do not apply extraterritorially. The plaintiffs have appealed the dismissal to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Intel and Apple are suing a number of entities that assert patents relating to wireless technologies. The companies allege that these entities are engaged in anticompetitive behavior by aggressively enforcing patents that are unenforceable. In a related case, Apple and Microsoft filed separate lawsuits in the Northern District of California. Intel also filed a separate complaint in the District of Columbia.
The case has been resolved after the plaintiffs presented their respective arguments and the District Court granted judgment as a matter of law. The jury awarded damages for Apple’s design patent and utility patent infringement. The jury awarded $1.049 billion in damages. The District Court struck out $410 million from the 2012 jury award. Apple will now be required to present sufficient evidence to recalculate appropriate damages.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has heard a case involving the patent claims of Zipit Wireless. The case is referred to as Apple Inc. v. Zipit Wireless Inc., case number 21-1760. Despite the pending appeals case, Apple will have to prove that Zipit Wireless is not infringing its patents. A court ruling by the Federal Circuit in Washington could mean that Zipit is free to continue using their technology.