SAN FRANCISCO – (BUSINESS LINE) – A group of Android app developers represented by plaintiffs’ rights law firm Hagens Berman today secured a $90 million settlement in a class action lawsuit alleging Google violate antitrust laws and harm developers through the anti-competitive policies that govern the Google Play Store. Hagens Berman was the first to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of developers, spearheading settlement and shaping negotiations with Google following a 2021 legal victory over Apple, in which it replaced on behalf of US iOS developers secured a payout of $100 million.
Lawyers at Hagens Berman say that Google has excluded competing app stores, forcing US Android developers to pay exorbitant fees to the tech giant for violating federal antitrust laws. The lawsuit against Google is pending against Google in the Northern District Court of California as of August 17, 2020 when the company filed with co-advisors, Sperling & Slater.
Steve Berman, managing partner and co-founder of Hagens Berman and attorney representing Android, said: “Today, nearly 48,000 hardworking app developers are getting the payouts they deserve. get for their work product – which Google seeks to profit from. developers in the settlement. “Following our victory over Apple for similar behavior, we think this settlement will send a powerful message to Big Tech: the law is watching and even the most powerful companies in the world are watching. The world must also be held accountable when they stifle competition.”
“Under the settlement we’ve built, some class members will likely see payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars, up to $200,000 or more,” he added.
Berman, who has racked up epic victories over Big Tech in his 41-year legal career, served as interim counsel and co-led the case against Google. He previously backed a $560 million collective agreement against Apple and book publishers regarding e-book price fixing, a $100 million settlement against Apple on behalf of iOS app developers and his company is pending lawsuits against Facebook, Amazon and many other Big Tech firms for antitrust and consumer rights related issues.
The lawsuit states that Google has achieved and maintained a monopoly in the US market over the Android operating system distribution service and in-app product trading service, and used its power to prevent win-win competition for all Android app developers.
Berman added: “We are pleased to see the effects of this settlement. “With this settlement, developers will have more room to grow and more money in their pockets to fuel their hard work.”
From the Developers – what class members say about the settlement
Pure Sweat Basketball Inc., one of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, has worked with the company for the past two years on the case, producing documents and being deposed, among other duties. In support of the agreement, COO and president of Pure Sweat Basketball Inc., Richard Czeslawski, said, “We are proud of the agreement now reached,” calling the change in Google’s service fee rates under agreement is “particularly important”.
“Google’s commitment to maintaining the reduced Commission levels through May 25, 2025 gives Pure Sweat and the members of the Settlement Group a substantial direct benefit from a further substantial reduction of 50 % of Google service fee rate from 30% to 15% …” Czeslawski said. “We are pleased to know that, through this Collective Action, we can secure this reduction…”
Regarding the creation of the Google Independent Apps Corner under the proposed agreement, Czeslawski said, “We are proud to know that our work in this lawsuit has helped ensure this program will help consumers easily find apps from small developers who distribute new apps through the Google Play App Market.”
Fine print – what developers can expect from a settlement on the Google Play Store
In addition to a $90 million monetary bailout, the settlement brings major changes to the Google Play Store, which lawyers say will aid app developers in future sales and level the playing field.
Under the preliminary settlement, Google will allow developers to pay 15% reduced service fees for their first $1 million in annual revenue until at least May 25, 2025, down from the previous 30%. Google acknowledged as part of the settlement that this was a factor behind the adoption of this program. Damage expert, Dr Michael Williams, estimates this change alone could save the case team more than $109 million in service fees.
Google has also agreed to develop an Independent Apps Corner to feature apps from small startup and independent developers on the US home page of the Google Play Store and will commit to amending the Google Play Store by agreement. developer distribution agreement to make it clear that developers can use contact information obtained in the app to communicate directly with users.
The agreement also incorporates changes to the Android 12 operating system that allow automatic updates from third-party Android app stores, committing Google to keep these changes in place for three years. Google also agrees to publish an annual transparency report that provides developers with meaningful data related to the operation of the Google Play Store under the agreement.
The $90 million settlement reached with Google will benefit all Android developers in the US with annual Google Play earnings of $2 million or less from August 17, 2016 to December 31, 2021 – an estimated 99% of Android app developers have revenue from Google Play in that Phase. The settlement accounts for about 36 to 38 percent of the total estimated total damages, which the attorneys say is an excellent recovery for the settlement in an antitrust class action. Each class member will receive a minimum payout of $250, with additional distributions served on a pro rata basis up to and in excess of $200,000.
“Under the proposed Settlement, these developers can receive substantial monetary payouts along with structural support that will, in turn, improve the Google Play Store and help developers develop better monetization of their apps and in-app products,” the preliminary approval request states.
The settlement is currently awaiting final approval from the court, with the assistance of attorneys representing both parties.
Learn more about the class action lawsuit against Google on behalf of Android app developers.
About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman is a complex global plaintiff’s rights law firm with a persistent drive to achieve real results for those harmed by corporate negligence and fraud. Since its founding in 1993, the company’s determination has earned it numerous national awards, accolades and the title of “The Scariest Plaintiff’s Company”, MVP and Lead in Lawsuits. group. You can learn more about the law firm and its successes at hbsslaw.com. Follow the company for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.