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Utah sues Google — 'like Godzilla in terms of size' — alleging anti-competitive app store

Posted at 4:07 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 21:21:33-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General's Office is joining other states in an anti-trust lawsuit against Google, alleging the internet giant's app store of putting strict conditions on developers and a steep cut of their sales.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in California, involves 36 other states including New York, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The litigation contends Google locked in app makers to using the company's payment systems, and demanded as much as a 30% cut of sales in apps. Some of those costs for in-app purchases were passed on to consumers, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said, adding that it could have ultimately cost people billions of dollars.

"Google is, in my mind, kind of like Godzilla in terms of size. Even when Godzilla is trying to save Tokyo or New York, Godzilla may not even realize he’s squashing some cars and smashing some buildings along the way," Reyes told reporters on Wednesday. "Just the pure size will inevitably cause damage. Godzilla has to be that much more diligent and careful about not hurting people when it’s trying to ostensibly help. In this case, we believe that Google not only was not hyper-vigilant and careful, but purposely used its massive leverage to harm competitors and keep its hyper-dominance in the market place."

Google has been under investigation by states for some time over its Play store rules for app developers. The lawsuit is the latest in a series targeting Google.

Utah has joined a lawsuit accusing the company of deceptive practices in online display advertising and another one over its search engine function. The state also has a lawsuit going against Facebook over its business practices and whether they are anti-competitive.

In a blog post, Google criticized the lawsuit as "meritless" and ignoring options the company's Android phones provided.

"We understand that scrutiny is appropriate, and we’re committed to engaging with regulators. But Android and Google Play provide openness and choice that other platforms simply don’t. This lawsuit isn’t about helping the little guy or protecting consumers," Google said in its statement. "It’s about boosting a handful of major app developers who want the benefits of Google Play without paying for it. Doing so risks raising costs for small developers, impeding their ability to innovate and compete, and making apps across the Android ecosystem less secure for consumers."

Read the lawsuit here: