Alphabet Tentatively Settles US Google Play Store Antitrust Probe – Report

Tentative settlement reached between US states and Alphabet over Google Play Store domination of Android market

Alphabet has reportedly reached a tentative settlement over antitrust allegations that Google Play abuses its domination of the Android marketplace.

Bloomberg reported that while details of the settlement were not revealed in a court filing, including how much Google will pay, the hearing on the status of the tentative settlement is set for 12 October.

Google is facing multiple antitrust lawsuits at the moment, but US District Judge James Donato in San Francisco is presiding over the combined Android antitrust case brought by more than 30 US states, and Epic Games, Match Group etc a few years ago.

Tentative settlement

Last month a Judge Donato said he planned to remove the class-action status of a lawsuit representing 21 million users that claimed Google overcharged them on Google Play.

The ruling, which had not yet been finalised, would mean a significant reduction in potential damages faced by the Alphabet subsidiary over app charges.

The consumers bringing the case said they were overcharged because of Google’s efforts to sustain an alleged monopoly on app purchases. Google has denied wrongdoing.

The exact amount Google must pay and any necessary changes required have yet to be disclosed, but could be made public at an 12th October hearing.

In March this year Judge Donato had ruled that Google had intentionally sought to “hide the ball” in the antitrust case by automatically deleting employee chat messages that could have been used as evidence in the suit.

Judge Donato had issued an order directing Google to produce additional chats records.

Now according to Bloomberg the tentative settlement has been referred to Judge Donato who, if satisfied, can confirm the settlement and cancel the pending November courtroom battle.

Unhappy Epic Games

But not everyone is happy at the proposed settlement with Google.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted that Epic isn’t included in the settlement.

Sweeney also tweeted his ongoing opposition about app stores asking a cut of each transaction to pay for the running costs of those stores.

He pointed to the European Union’s DMA, saying that its “endgame will be Apple and Google acquiescing to open stores and payments, but working desperately to kneecap real competition and keep the Apple Tax and Google Tax in place.”

Earlier this week the European Commission named six ‘gatekeepers’ of online services that are subject to its Digital Markets Act (DMA), where a number of Google services featuring prominently in the list.

Epic’s trial against Google is set for 6th November.

“If Google is ending its payments monopoly without imposing a Google Tax on third party transactions, we’ll settle and be Google’s friend in their new era,” Sweeney tweeted.

“But if the settlement merely pays off the other plaintiffs while leaving the Google Tax in place, we’ll fight on. Consumers only benefit if antitrust enforcement not only opens up markets, but also restores price competition,” he added. “The Google Tax is antithetical to that competition.”