Milberg Portugal Attorneys File Google Play Class Action Lawsuit

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April 16, 2022

by Brian Eckert

Milberg Sousa Ferro, representing the consumer protection association Ius Omnibus, has filed a class action lawsuit against Google with the Portuguese Competition, Regulation and Supervision Court. The Google Play class action accuses Google of anticompetitive practices that harmed consumers. It is similar to cases pending against Google in other jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Google Play Store class action is an opt-out case representing all affected Portuguese consumers.

Lawsuit Claims Google Strangles Android App Market, Overcharges Consumers

At issue in the lawsuit are Google’s alleged anticompetitive practices related to smartphone apps that run on the Android operating system and are sold in the Google Play Store, both of which Google owns. According to a class action complaint submitted on March 21:

  • Google markets the Android operating system, which is used by virtually all non-Apple smartphones sold in Portugal.
  • Smartphone manufacturers that install the Android operating system on their equipment must enter into an agreement with Google that prevents them from developing alternative operating systems. Manufacturers must also, if they want to make available on their devices one of Google’s core apps (such as Google Maps, Gmail, or YouTube), pre-install the Google Play Store and place the Store’s icon prominently on the device’s home screen.
  • Third party app developers must also enter an agreement with Google granting exclusivity to the Play Store for the distribution of Android apps and in-app content, including in-app content payments.
  • Per the terms of Google’s agreements with app developers, developers are obliged to respect a minimum price for their Android apps on the Play Store.
  • Google confronts consumers with misleading steps and warning messages that dissuade them from using alternative to the Play Store.
  • Google has agreements in place with potential competitors that keep them from competing with the Play Store.
  • As a result of these practices, Android apps and in-app content can practically only be acquired through the Play Store; consumers have no genuine alternative to the Play Store.
  • Google charges app developers a 30% commission on all payments for apps and in-app content through the Play Store—an overcharge that is made possible by Google’s quasi-monopoly.
  • App developers pass on this overcharging to consumers.

The lawsuit asserts that Google has engaged in these anticompetitive practices since July 6, 2009 (the date that Google began selling the Android operating system in Portugal). It seeks a declaration from Google that it has engaged in these practices, an end to the practices, compensation for the overcharging of consumers, and a published summary of the final court decision in national newspapers.

“This Google Play Store case is an opt-out action representing all affected Portuguese consumers,” said Miguel Sousa Ferro, Managing Partner at Milberg Sousa Ferro. “Whereas in other jurisdictions Google’s alleged practices have mostly been presented exclusively as monopolization/abuse of dominance, we have also presented them as anticompetitive agreements. We were able to do this because we are only representing consumers.”

Milberg Sousa Ferro represents the Plaintiff, Ius Omnibus, a non-profit headquartered in Lisbon with a mission of defending European Union consumers. You can learn more about the Google case on the Ius Omnibus website.

Milberg: A Global Leader in Class Action and Consumer Protection

Milberg created a new era of corporate accountability when it was founded more than five decades ago. Its recent expansion has given the firm a greater ability to take on the world’s most powerful companies not only domestically, but worldwide. Milberg is headquartered in Tennessee, with additional offices in New York, California, Georgia, Mississippi, Washington, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and Portugal.

Founded in 2019, Milberg Sousa Ferro is the leading law firm in Portugal for the collective defense of rights and for the private enforcement of competition law. The firm also frequently advises and represents regulators and other public authorities.

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