Attorney General Ellison reaches $700M settlement with Google over Play Store misconduct

Resolves lawsuit first filed in 2021; most of the settlement to go directly into consumers’ pockets

December 19, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) — Attorney General Ellison and a bipartisan group of 52 other attorneys general today announced they have reached a $700 million agreement  with Google in their 2021 lawsuit  about Google’s anticompetitive conduct with the Google Play Store.

“Monopolies hurt consumers, stifle innovation, and make it harder for Minnesotans to afford their lives,” said Attorney General Ellison. “Google’s efforts to completely control the app market on Android devices are unacceptable and I am glad they will be relinquishing much of that control thanks to our litigation. Most of this $700 million settlement will go directly into the pockets of consumers, to compensate them for in-app purchases that were overpriced thanks to Google’s conduct. This settlement should act as a deterrent for companies who think they can get away with illegal, anticompetitive, anti-consumer practices. Minnesota and every other state are watching and we will hold you to account.”

Google will pay $630 million in restitution, minus costs and fees, to consumers who made purchases on the Google Play Store between August 2016 and September 2023 and were harmed by Google’s anticompetitive practices. Consumers eligible for restitution do not have to submit a claim – they will receive automatic payments through PayPal or Venmo, or they can elect to receive a check or ACH transfer. More details about that process will be forthcoming. The agreement also requires Google to make their business practices fairer in a number of important ways.

Google will also pay the states an additional $70 million in penalties for their sovereign claims, out of which Minnesota is expected to receive roughly $1.16 million.

In July 2021, Attorney General Ellison joined a bipartisan coalition  of 37 attorneys general in suing Google, alleging that Google unlawfully monopolized the market Android app distribution and in-app payment processing. Specifically, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition claimed that Google signed anticompetitive contracts to prevent other app stores from being preloaded on Android devices, bought off key app developers who might have launched rival app stores, and created technological barriers to deter consumers from directly downloading apps to their devices. The coalition announced a settlement in principle on September 5, 2023, and today released the finalized terms of that deal.

In addition to restitution to consumers, the settlement requires Google  to reform its business practices in the following ways:

For much of this case, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition litigated alongside Epic Games and Match, two major app developers. Match announced a separate settlement earlier this year, while Epic Games took its case to trial. A jury unanimously found that Google’s anticompetitive conduct violated the federal antitrust laws early last week.

Joining Attorney General Ellison in the settlement are the attorneys general from North Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, New York, and California, who led the lawsuit, and the attorneys general of all remaining states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.