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US States Likely To Soon File Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Over Play Store: Reports

US States Likely To Soon File Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Over Play Store: Reports
Another litigation is brewing for Alphabet Inc's Google in the United States as reports suggest that a lawsuit against the tech giant which is reported will be filed by a group of state attorneys general as early as next week.
According to reports citing unnamed sources, Google will be accused of violating antitrust law in running its mobile app store.
Complaints from all developers about Google's management of its Play Store for Android devices formed the basis of the anticipated lawsuit, said reports citing sources. There were expectations that the lawsuit would have been brought ion last year itself but has been delayed. It however seems closer now, said reports.  
The state attorneys general of Utah, Tennessee, North Carolina and New York are leading the investigation but is unclear about the number of US states that would participate in the case.
Reports also claimed that the lawsuit is most likely to be filed federal court in Northern California where other related cases are being heard. These include a lawsuit filed against Google last year by the video game maker Epic Games Inc in which the search engine giant was accused of practicing app store rules that were anticompetitive. The lawsuit expected to go to trial in 2022.
Two proposed class action lawsuits over the Play store also remain before the same judge. Reports said that if the US states want to become a part of the depositions and other pre-trial activities, there was little time left for them to file the lawsuit.
A similar trial in the Apple Inc and Epic case was concluded last month in California and a ruling is expected soon.
A Google spokesperson defended their app store as open. "Android is the only major operating system that allows people to download apps from multiple app stores. In fact, most Android devices ship with two or more app stores preinstalled. They can also install additional app stores or apps directly from their browser if they choose," the spokesperson said.
Compared to Apple, Google was originally viewed to be more open in the manner in which the company ran its app store. The company has however tightened its rules recently and enhanced implementation of those rules.
Reports quoting sources pointed out that at the core of the most recent proposed lawsuit would be Google making it mandatory for some of its apps be used via the payment tools of the company for selling subscriptions and content and cough up as much as 30 per cent of the sales as fees to Google.
Accusations against both Google, as well as Apple, of being anti-competitive in demanding mandatory revenue sharing have been brought by a range of app makers such as music streaming service Spotify Technology SA and dating services giant Match Group, which owns the Tinder app.
In recent times, there have been unusually vigorous debate as over whether enforcement of federal antitrust regulations have been to lax. Calls for tougher enforcement have been made for many people, including Senator Amy Klobuchar who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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