Google Slapped With Antitrust Violation Lawsuit

( Google is set to face yet another anti-trust case, after it was slapped with another lawsuit on Wednesday.

The suit, filed by the attorneys general of 36 states along with Washington, D.C., alleges the control Google exerts over the app store on Android mobile devices violates federal antitrust laws.

This suit is being led by Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James and Republican Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. It’s the third antitrust lawsuit that’s been filed recently against Google.

This latest suit focuses on the fact that Google charges developers of apps a 30% commission on subscription or digital content purchases people make through the Google Play Store. The suit alleges that this practice shuts out any potential competitors in distribution for Android apps by providing technical barriers, exclusionary contracts and “misleading” security warnings.

In the end, this hurts consumers, the suit alleges, as it limits the choices in apps on the Google Play Store and drives prices up as well.

In a statement, James said:

“Google has served as the gatekeeper of the internet for many years, but, more recently, it has also become the gatekeeper of our digital devices — resulting in all of us paying more for the software we use every day.

“Once again, we are seeing Google use its dominance to illegally quash competition and profit to the tune of billions.”

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. It’s also very similar to a suit filed by the creator of the video game Fortnite, Epic Games, last August.

For its part, Google quickly responded to the suit being filed, saying it was “strange.” Their main point was that the system they have created for the Google Play Store provides “more openness and choice than others.”

In a lengthy blog post on their site, Google wrote:

“We built Android to create more choices in mobile technology. Today, anyone, including our competitors, can customize and build devices with the Android operating system — for free.

“We also built an app store, Google Play, that helps people download apps on their devices. If you don’t find the app you’re looking for in Google Play, you can choose to download the app from a rival app store or directly from a developer’s website. We don’t impose the same restrictions as other mobile operating systems do.

“So it’s strange that a group of state attorneys general chose to file a lawsuit attacking a system that provides more openness and choice than others. This complaint mimics a similarly meritless lawsuit filed by the large app developer Epic Games, which has benefitted from Android’s openness by distributing its Fortnite app outside of Google Play.”

In that statement, Google’s defense was seemingly that they are less open than their main competitor in the mobile operating system business — Apple. That’s the company they made veiled references to in their response.

If Google wants to have success moving forward in these antitrust cases, they’re going to have to come up with a better defense than “we’re not as bad as Apple.”