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Google to pay $90m to settle lawsuit over anti-competitive behavior on the Play Store

US developers that qualify could receive more than $200,000

Google is to pay $90 million to settle a class-action lawsuit with US developers over alleged anti-competitive behavior regarding the Google Play Store.

Eligible for a share in the $90 million fund are US developers who earned two million dollars or less in annual revenue through Google Play between 2016 and 2021. "A vast majority of US developers who earned revenue through Google Play will be eligible to receive money from this fund," said Google.

Law firm Hagens Berman announced the settlement this morning, having been one of the first to file a class case. The legal firm was one of four that secured a $100 million settlement from Apple in 2021 for US iOS developers.

The accusations that will be settled are depressing familiar – attorneys had alleged that Google excluded competing app stores from its platform and that the search giant charged app developers eye-watering fees.

Google said it "and a group of US developers have reached a proposed settlement that allows both parties to move forward and avoids years of uncertain and distracting litigation."

If the court gives the go-ahead, developers that qualify will be notified.

As well as the settlement [PDF], Google has promised changes to Android 12 to make it easier for other app stores to be used on devices and to revise its Developer Distribution Agreement to clarify that developers can use contact information obtained in-app to direct users to offers on a rival app store or the developer's own site.

The lawsuit goes back to 2020, when Hagens Berman and Sperling & Slater filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Back then, much was made of a default 30 percent commission levied by Google on Play Store app purchases and in-app transactions. Google currently has a tiered model, implemented in 2021, where the first $1 million in annual revenue was subject to a reduced 15 per cent, but it appears this has been insufficient to keep the lawyers at bay.

Some developers could receive a shot in the arm to the tune of more than $200,000, according to lawyers.

"Following our win against Apple for similar conduct, we think this pair of settlements sends a strong message to big tech: the law is watching, and even the most powerful companies in the world are accountable when they stifle competition," said Steve Berman, managing partner and co-founder of Hagens Berman and attorney representing the Android developers in the settlement. ®

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