Lead Trial Counsel Brendan Glackin and a bipartisan group of 53 attorneys general today announce a $700 million agreement with Google to resolve their lawsuit challenging Google’s monopolization of Android app distribution and in-app payment processing via the Google Play Store.
“It has been an honor to represent the attorneys general in this landmark litigation,” said Glackin, a partner at Lieff Cabraser and chair of the firm’s Antitrust practice group. “The dominance of online platforms cuts across every political divide and into the heart of the lives of all Americans. This settlement strikes a blow for competition.”
The attorneys general retained Glackin in 2021 as Lead Trial Counsel for the case. Under the terms of the settlement, Google will pay $630 million in restitution, minus costs and fees, to consumers who made purchases on the Google Play Store between August 2016 and September 2023. Google will pay the states an additional $70 million in resolution of their sovereign claims. Play Store consumers will receive automatic payments through PayPal or Venmo, or they can elect to receive a check or ACH transfer. More details about that process will be forthcoming. The agreement also requires Google to make its business practices more procompetitive in a number of important ways.
The attorneys general sued Google in 2021, alleging that Google signed anticompetitive contracts to prevent other app stores from being preloaded on Android devices, bought off key app developers who might have launched rival app stores, and created technological barriers to deter consumers from directly downloading apps to their devices. The states announced a settlement in principle on September 5, 2023, and today released the finalized terms of that deal.
The settlement requires Google to reform its business practices in the following ways:
- Give all developers the ability to allow users to pay through in-app billing systems other than Google Play Billing for at least five years.
- Allow developers to offer cheaper prices for their apps and in-app products for consumers who use alternative, non-Google billing systems for at least five years.
- Permit developers to steer consumers toward alternative, non-Google billing systems by advertising cheaper prices within their apps themselves for at least five years.
- Not enter contracts that require the Play Store to be the exclusive, pre-loaded app store on a device or home screen for at least five years.
- Allow the installation of third-party apps on Android phones from outside the Google Play Store for at least seven years.
- Revise and reduce the warnings that appear on an Android device if a user attempts to download a third-party app from outside the Google Play Store for at least 5 years.
- Maintain Android system support for third-party app stores, including allowing automatic updates, for four years.
- Not require developers to launch their app catalogs on the Play Store at the same time as they launch on other app stores for at least four years.
- Submit compliance reports to an independent monitor who will ensure that Google is not continuing its anticompetitive conduct for at least 5 years.
For much of this case, the attorneys general litigated alongside Epic Games and Match, two major app developers. Match announced a separate settlement earlier this year, while Epic Games took its case to trial. A jury unanimously found that Google’s anticompetitive conduct violated the federal antitrust laws early last week.
Glackin serves as Special Assistant Attorney General to the State of Utah. The Attorneys General from North Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, New York, and California led the case, joined by the attorneys general of all remaining states, the District of Columbia and the territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
bglackin @ lchb.com