California district judge James Donato has allowed litigation against Google to proceed as a consumer class action lawsuit, with a massive 21 million claimants accusing the tech giant of violating the country’s anti-competition laws, reports Reuters.
Donato has judged that the plaintiffs have suitably met the various criteria needed to form a class action lawsuit, including establishing the legal element of commonality. The class members include Google Play users from 12 different states as well as overseas territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa.
The plaintiffs are seeking damages of $4.7 billion, for an average of $223.8 per person.
This is the latest lawsuit to hit Google related to its alleged anticompetitive actions. Among other legal suits, the company was recently fined $113 million by India’s antitrust watchdog, while a court filing from last Thursday claims that the tech giant has struck at least 24 deals with developers considering creating competing app stores.
Putting the people first?
Google has continuously denied any claims of being anticompetitive and defended its Play Store business practices.
Speaking on Monday, a spokesperson for Google said “We’re evaluating the ruling, and after that, we’ll assess our options.”
Google’s attorneys have claimed that the plaintiffs have failed to show how they were harmed by the company’s action, however Donato rejected this argument.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs claim, among other things, that Google has prohibited developers from pointing consumers to competing app stores and used misleading warnings to prevent them from installing third party apps, and that "but for Google's anticompetitive conduct, plaintiffs and class members would have paid lower prices for apps and in-app purchases and would have benefited from expanded choice."
The trial is set to commence in June 2023.
Last week, we reported that UK regulators are investigating Google and Apple regarding a possible duopoly on mobile ecosystems.