All 50 states along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have reached a tentative settlement in a lawsuit, led by the Utah Attorney General’s office, that alleged Google engaged in anticompetitive conduct involving the company’s Google Play Store.

In a Wednesday press release, a joint statement from the plaintiffs in the case called it a win for consumers and said the action would bear direct benefits for users of devices powered by the dominant Android operating system.

“No company is too big to not play by the rules, including Google,” the plaintiffs’ group said. “We brought this lawsuit because it is illegal to use monopoly power to drive up prices. We appreciate this bipartisan group of Attorneys General who fought for a fair marketplace that encourages competition, innovation, and lower prices for consumers. We look forward to finalizing this agreement and sharing more details in the next 30 days.” 

The lawsuit, filed in 2021 and originally composed of 38 states and districts, alleged Google was engaging in “exclusionary conduct that substantially shut out competing app distribution channels” and that also required developers that offered their apps through the Google Play store to use Google Billing as a middleman. That arrangement, according to the Utah AG’s office, tied a payment system to an app distribution channel that forced app consumers to pay Google’s commission — up to 30% — on in-app purchases of digital content made by consumers through apps that are distributed via Google Play. That commission, according to the lawsuit, is much higher than the commission that consumers would pay if they had the ability to choose one of Google’s competitors instead.

Utah AG leading out on new Google lawsuit targeting Play Store practices

The lawsuit also alleged that Google worked to discourage or prevent competition, violating federal and state antitrust laws.

Details of the settlement have not been disclosed but further information is expected to be released when the agreement, subject to court approval, is finalized in 30 days, according to the Utah AG’s office.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes lauded the tentative deal in a Wednesday press statement.

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“This is a tremendous win for consumers, app developers, and the marketplace,” Reyes said. “Utah is proud to lead this lawsuit with so many states joining our fight. We couldn’t have accomplished this global settlement without the collective and Herculean efforts of so many dedicated lawyers and staff from AG offices around the country.”

Other lawsuits making similar claims about Google Play store conduct are pending, including an action brought by Fortnite creator Epic Games.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney noted his company was not a party to the tentative Google settlement and promised to continue to pursue legal relief in the courts if the agreement did include provisions to curb fees assessed on Google Play transactions.

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

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