CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Thursday announced a bipartisan group of 52 attorneys general has reached a tentative agreement with Google arising out of the company’s anticompetitive conduct involving the Google Play Store.
The case focuses on the company’s Play Store and alleges that Google harmed consumers by using its monopoly power in the Android app market to inflate prices for paid apps and in-app purchases. The agreement in principle will be finalized over the next 30 days and submitted to the court for approval, at which point the details will be made public.
“Vigorous competition protects consumers and helps the economy thrive,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Our nation’s antitrust laws play a vital role in helping to foster innovation and ensure that consumers pay a fair price. Likewise, our nation loses when one company can use unlawful means to monopolize a particular market. We must feverishly oppose such tactics.”
“No company is too big to play by the rules.”
The lawsuit centers on Google’s alleged exclusionary conduct, which substantially shuts out competing app distribution channels.
The attorneys general allege Google unlawfully requires app developers that offer their app through the Google Play Store to use Google Billing as a middleman. Such an arrangement forces app consumers to pay Google’s commission – up to 30% – on in-app purchases of digital content the consumers create through apps that are distributed via the Google Play Store.
The attorneys general allege Google broke its early promise to app developers and device manufacturers that it would keep Android “open source,” allowing developers to create compatible apps and distribute them without unnecessary restrictions.
The lawsuit also alleges Google sought to enhance or protect its monopoly position by buying off its potential competition, requiring contracts that foreclose competition and imposing technical barriers to strongly discourage or effectively prevent third-party app developers to achieve success outside of the Google Play Store.
Attorney General Morrisey joined the lawsuit with a bipartisan group of attorneys general from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.