Google settles another Play Store antitrust case

Perhaps the Chocolate Factory didn't feel like staring down 36 state AGs with two other competition cases pending

Google's antitrust docket is one case lighter, as it's reached a tentative deal with 36 states and Washington, D.C. to settle a case alleging unfair practices in the Google Play Store.

After several months of mediation, lawyers said in a court filing [PDF], the parties had reached an agreement in principle to settle the matter – subject to the approval of the Attorneys General from the 36 states that brought the lawsuit in 2021, the Chocolate Factory itself and the court. 

The original wide-ranging complaint included arguments that Google abused its market-dominant position by taking a 30 percent commission on app and in-app purchases, requirements that developers use Google's own payment processing system and other familiar arguments.

"Google's anticompetitive conduct harms consumers and app developers, both at the point of app distribution and when a consumer later purchases in-app digital products," the original complaint argued in part.

The decision to settle this case didn't come with much in the way of information from the parties involved – court documents only state that the agreement had been reached and asked for a future trial date of November 6 to be vacated along with suspension of pre-trial deadlines. If the court doesn't accept the settlement, "the parties shall be returned to their respective litigation positions" and the trial will go on.

No settlement amount was mentioned, and it appears that only "US state and territories as well as the named consumer plaintiffs" are party to the settlement. That means several corporate plaintiffs on the suit, including Epic Games and dating website Match, appear to not be giving up the fight. Neither company's lawyers responded to questions.

The Register asked for comment from lawyers for both sides involved in the settlement, and PR teams where applicable, but we didn't immediately hear back from anyone. Without a spokesperson willing to share details, we'll have to wait like everyone else until October 12, when state AGs, consumer plaintiffs and Google will show up in court to report on the status of the settlement and share details. 

The deal comes a week after the judge in the case retracted the class status granted in the case.

One more settled, two more to litigate

Similar to the 2022 Play Store settlement, this latest deal will take another antitrust case off of Google's seemingly neverending pile of them. It won't touch the other two that are still on the docket alleging abuses of Google's search power and advertising arm.

The search case goes back to 2020, when 11 states and the US Department of Justice sued Google for unlawfully monopolizing the online search market using exclusionary agreements with other companies that "foreclosed competition." 

Earlier this year the DoJ accused Google of destroying evidence in the case, and in August Google tried to get the judge to make a ruling before the trial was set to begin this month, which the judge declined to do, clearing the way for the case to head to court very soon. 

Google is facing another antitrust lawsuit from 17 states and the DoJ, this one pertaining to Google's monopolization of digital ad sales through a series of acquisitions and exclusionary conduct that forced companies to use its advertising tools. 

The advertising monopoly case is ongoing and is expected to go to trial in Spring of next year. If the plaintiffs are successful, Google could be forced to sell its Ad Manager Suite, which includes DoubleClick for Publishers and the AdX ad exchange. ®

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