Timeline on Monopoly Lawsuit Regarding Google App Store

Led by the State of Utah, 36 states filed a lawsuit in 2021 against Google for monopolizing the smartphone application market. Pointing to the same conduct for which the European Union fined Google €4.1 billion, the suit alleges that Google has monopolized the Android app distribution and Android app payment systems by “artificial technological and contractual” conditions that Google imposes on its competitors.

The States say that Google, whose Android platform is the only viable mobile operating system that phone makers can license for their product, pays off manufacturers and phone carriers to discourage them from creating competing app stores. They also say Google makes phone manufacturers and carriers sign restrictive contracts that make Google Play an undeletable default presence on devices and also make it unnecessarily hard for users to download apps outside Google Play. The States also say that Google even blocks rival apps and app stores from advertising on Google properties such as its search engine and YouTube to stifle the growth of competing app stores.

The suit alleges that Google uses its illegally maintained app store monopoly to force app developers and consumers into using Google’s payment processing system for app-related transactions. With no alternative payment systems allowed in Google’s marketplace, and no competing app marketplaces for consumers or app developers to turn to, Google can impose “extravagant” fees on app transactions – amounts up to ten times the standard rate of other payment processors.

The government enforcement action has been consolidated with a number of similar, private cases brought by consumers and app developers. The States are asking the Court to stop Google’s anticompetitive behavior and are seeking financial penalties, future monitoring, and other measures to deter Google and others from repeating its actions.

 

Utah Suit

2021
July 7

States File Suit

The State of Utah, along with 35 other States, files a civil antitrust lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco) against Google for monopolizing the smartphone app and app payment system markets.

July 20

Cases Consolidated

A federal judicial panel identifies other similar cases brought by consumers and app developers against Google for monopolizing app store markets and consolidates them with the States’ case in the Northern District of California, assigned to Judge James Donato.

August 25

Google Loses Redaction Bid

Google fails to convince the Court to redact much of the States’ lawsuit.

August 28

Mostly-Unredacted Lawsuit Released

The largely unredacted document adds factual details about Google’s anticompetitive behavior, including schemes with device manufacturers to reduce competition in the app store market.

September 9

Google Doesn’t Dismiss

At a status conference, Google chooses not to seek the dismissal of the app store antitrust lawsuits against it, confirming that it will face the lawsuits in court.

October 11

Google Answers Complaint

Google answers the lawsuit, denying most of the States’ claims and demanding a trial by jury.

2022
July 1

Google Reaches Settlement Deal

Pending the Court’s approval, Google reaches a deal to pay $90m to a group of small app developers whose class action lawsuit was consolidated with the States’. Larger app developers don’t settle, instead continuing in court.

August 4

Settlement Delayed, Consumer Class Action

A federal judge delays approving Google’s proposed settlement, saying the award is too small. He also says the Court might certify a class action lawsuit of 21 million U.S. consumers affected by Google’s alleged actions.

August 30

Schedule Proposed

At the Court’s request, the States, consolidated parties, and Google submit a joint proposed schedule that outline a potential timeline for the suit to proceed, proposing a trial date of June 5, 2023.

September 22

Fact Discovery Ends

Discovery, the process both sides of a lawsuit use to request information and documents from each other and question witnesses under oath about evidence that will be used at trial, closes.

November 28

Class Action Certified

The Court certifies a class action lawsuit of 21 million U.S. consumers affected by Google’s alleged actions that has been consolidated with the States’ case. By certifying the class action, the Court rejected Google’s arguments that the class-action’s plaintiffs failed to demonstrate how they were harmed.

2023
February 3

Expert Discovery Ends

Close of expert discovery, the period of time when parties exchange expert reports and depose each other’s experts. In antitrust cases, expert reports usually relate to the economic impact of the defendant’s anti-competitive conduct. This can often take several months.

February 7

Deadline to File for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is when the court rules in one party’s favor, without a trial, because there are no factual issues for a jury to decide. Defendants almost always file motions asking for this relief. If the court grants the defendant’s motion, that usually ends the case at the trial court level.

March 23

Summary Judgment Hearing

The Court will hear oral arguments for and against summary judgment (whether the case can be decided without a trial). If summary judgment is not granted, the case will proceed to trial.

June 5

Jury Trial Begins

If the case survives summary judgement, the trial will start.