SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE). Hagens Berman was the first to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of developers, conducting settlement negotiations and crafting the settlement with Google following its legal victory over Apple in 2021, in which it settled on behalf of US iOS developers for $100 million dollars over similar claims.
Lawyers for Hagens Berman say Google has banned competing app stores and forced US Android developers to pay exorbitant fees to the tech giant, in violation of federal antitrust laws. The lawsuit against Google has been pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California since August 17, 2020, when the company filed a complaint with co-counsel Sperling & Slater.
“Today, nearly 48,000 hard-working app developers are getting the fair pay they deserve for their work product – something Google has wanted to capitalize on hand over fist,” said Steve Berman, managing partner and co-founder of Hagens Berman and attorney representing Android developer in the settlement. “Following our win over Apple over similar behavior, we believe these two settlements send a strong message to big tech: the law is watching, and even the world’s most powerful companies are responsible when they suppress competition.”
“Under the settlement agreement that we have created, some class members will likely see payments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, upwards of $200,000 or more,” he added.
Berman, who has won monumental victories against Big Tech in his 41-year legal career, served as co-lead interim class counsel in the lawsuit against Google. He previously championed a $560 million class action settlement against Apple and book publishers over e-book price fixing, a $100 million settlement against Apple on behalf of iOS app developers, and his firm has one pending Litigation against Facebook, Amazon and many other big tech kingpins for antitrust and consumer law issues.
The lawsuit alleges that Google unlawfully obtained and maintained a monopoly in the US market for Android operating system distribution services and in-app product transaction services and used its power to prevent competition that benefits all Android app developers would.
“We are excited to see the impact of this settlement,” added Berman. “With this deal, developers have more room to grow and more cash in their pockets to fuel their hard efforts.”
From the developers – what class members said about the comparison
Pure Sweat Basketball Inc., one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, worked with the company for the past two years, including filing documents and being fired. In support of the settlement, Pure Sweat Basketball Inc. COO and President Richard Czeslawski said, “We are proud of the settlement that has now been reached,” and called Google’s change in service fees as part of the settlement “particularly significant.”
“Google’s commitment to maintain a reduced commission through May 25, 2025 provides Pure Sweat and peer group members with the significant direct benefit of a continued significant 50% reduction in Google’s service fees from 30% to 15%…” , said Czeslawski . “We are thrilled to know that through this class action lawsuit we have been able to secure this reduction…”
Of the creation of Google’s Indie Apps Corner as part of the proposed settlement, Czeslawski said, “We are proud to know that our work in this lawsuit helped secure this program that will make it easier for consumers to find apps from small developers who distribute new apps Google Play.”
The fine print – what developers can expect from the Google Play Store agreement
In addition to the $90 million financial relief, the settlement brings major changes to the Google Play Store that attorneys say will help app developers with future sales and level the playing field.
Under the preliminary settlement agreement, Google will allow developers to pay a reduced service fee of 15% on their first $1 million in annual revenue through at least May 25, 2025, compared to the previous rate of 30%. As part of the settlement, Google acknowledges that this case was a factor in its acceptance of this program. The damage expert Dr. Michael Williams estimates that this class change alone could save more than $109 million in service fees.
Google has also agreed to develop an Indie Apps Corner to highlight apps from independent and small start-up developers on the US Google Play Store homepage, and as part of the agreement commits to revising its developer distribution agreement to clarify that developers are allowed to use contact information received in-app to communicate directly with users.
The settlement also cements changes to the Android 12 operating system that allow for automatic updates from third-party Android app stores, and commits Google to maintaining those changes for three years. Google also agreed to publish an annual transparency report that provides developers with meaningful data on the operation of the Google Play Store as part of the comparison.
$90 million settlement reached with Google will benefit all US Android developers making annual Google Play revenue of $2 million or less from August 17, 2016 through December 31, 2021 – estimated 99% of Android app developers with Google Play revenue period. The settlement accounts for an estimated 36 to 38 percent of the estimated total individual claim, which attorneys are highlighting as an excellent recovery for a settlement in an antitrust class action. Each class member will receive a minimum payment of $250, with additional distributions prorated up to and above $200,000.
“As part of the proposed settlement, these developers will receive significant cash payments along with structural relief that will improve the Google Play Store going forward and help developers better monetize their apps and in-app products,” the motion for preliminary approval reads .
The settlement is now awaiting final court approval, with the support of lawyers representing both sides.
Learn more about the class action lawsuit against Google on behalf of Android app developers.
About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman is a global plaintiffs’ rights litigation firm with a relentless pursuit of real results for those harmed by corporate negligence and fraud. Since its inception in 1993, the firm’s determination has garnered numerous national awards, accolades and titles as the Firm’s Most Feared Plaintiffs, MVPs and Class Action Innovators. To learn more about the firm and its accomplishments, visit hbsslaw.com. Follow the company for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.