Attorneys-general in 36 states and the District of Columbia sued Alphabet Inc.'s Google late Wednesday for antitrust violations.
The lawsuit, first reported by Bloomberg News, builds on complaints from app developers about how Google uses its app store, known as the Play Store, on Android mobile devices. Epic Games Inc., Apple Inc.
Google also sued in court, as the iPhone manufacturer operates its app store
in federal court in Northern California last year, accusing it of imposing anti-competitive app store rules. This lawsuit is expected to go to court in 2022. (A decision in the Epic-Apple case is expected this summer.)
The latest complaint centers around Google's request that some apps use the company's payment tools to sell subscriptions and content, and pay up to 30% of sales to Google. As a result, the app manufacturer Spotify Technology SA
and Match Group Inc.
Both Google and Apple are accused of being anti-competitive by demanding mandatory revenue sharing.
“In order to collect and maintain this extravagant commission, Google has stopped
anti-competitive tactics to reduce competition in the distribution of Android apps and discourage incentives, ”said the lawsuit filed in federal court in Northern California. The website listed the defendants as Google, Alphabet and subsidiaries in Ireland and Asia.
“Google hasn't stopped ruling out potential threats to its app distribution monopoly
and extraction of monopoly rents for app distribution. Google has also ensured that it can continue to reap windfall commissions from apps after the Google Play Store distributes them to consumers – often months or even years later, ”the 144-page lawsuit stated.
For more: The (predicted) verdict stands in a groundbreaking battle between Epic and Apple over antitrust law
Google representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Google is already facing a number of antitrust proceedings: a federal lawsuit filed by the Justice Department last year and two related antitrust proceedings by various groups of attorneys general. One focuses on Google's alleged efforts to extend its search dominance to newer markets like voice assistants; the other is looking for advertisements.