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West Virginia to sue Google

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FILE – This Sept. 24, 2019, file photo shows a sign on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif. Google was quickly negotiating generous deals with big and small Australian media companies to pay for news as the Parliament considers forcing digital giants into such remuneration agreements, a minister said on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

(WTRF)- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey joined a coalition of 37 attorneys general in filing suit against Google alleging the tech giant engaged in unlawful conduct relating to the Google Play Store for Android mobile devices and Google Billing.

The bipartisan, antitrust lawsuit sets forth allegations of anticompetitive and unfair business practices. It accuses Google of using its dominance to unfairly restrict competition with the Google Play Store. The action harmed consumers by limiting choice and driving up app prices.
 
“Vigorous competition protects consumers and helps the economy thrive,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Our nation’s antitrust laws play a vital role in helping to foster innovation and ensure that consumers pay a fair price. Likewise, our nation loses when one company can use unlawful means to monopolize a particular market. We must feverishly oppose such tactics.”
 
The lawsuit centers on Google’s alleged exclusionary conduct, which substantially shuts out competing app distribution channels.
 
The attorneys general allege Google unlawfully requires app developers that offer their app through the Google Play Store to use Google Billing as a middleman. Such an arrangement forces app consumers to pay Google’s commission – up to 30 percent – on in-app purchases of digital content the consumers create through apps that are distributed via the Google Play Store.
 
The lawsuit further alleges that Google works to discourage or prevent competition, violating federal and state antitrust laws.
 
The attorneys general allege Google broke its early promise to app developers and device manufacturers that it would keep Android “open source,” allowing developers to create compatible apps and distribute them without unnecessary restrictions.
 
The lawsuit also alleges Google sought to enhance or protect its monopoly position by buying off its potential competition, requiring contracts that foreclose competition and imposing technical barriers to strongly discourage or effectively prevent third-party app developers to achieve success outside of the Google Play Store.
 
West Virginia joined the bipartisan lawsuit led by Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee, along with Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
 
Read a copy of the coalition’s civil complaint at https://bit.ly/2UBbwaU.

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