Legal Issues

Consumers Withdraw Lawsuit Against Google Over Android App Limits

Consumers Withdraw Lawsuit Against Google Over Android App Limits
Image credit: REUTERS | Jason Lee

Plaintiffs in an antitrust lawsuit against Google Inc on Friday withdrew their case accusing the search engine company of harming smartphone buyers by forcing handset makers using Android operating system to make Google's own applications the default option.

The class action lawsuit, filed by two smartphone customers in May 2014, was dismissed on Feb. 20 by U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose, California.

The lawsuit argued that Google requires Android handset manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd favor Google's apps such as YouTube and restrict competing apps like Microsoft Corp's Bing search.

This illegally drives smartphone prices higher as rivals cannot compete for the "prime screen real estate" that Google's own apps enjoy, Gary Feitelson and Daniel McKee had alleged.

But Freeman said in February that the consumers had failed to show that higher prices stemmed from Google illegally forcing restrictive contracts on handset makers.

The plaintiffs were told to amend their claims.

Google said on Friday that Android handsets could be used without Google, an argument it had presented in its court filings.

"Since Android's introduction, greater competition in smartphones has given consumers more choices at lower prices," Google spokesman Aaron Stein said in an email to Reuters.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

Google also faces antitrust issues in Europe.

The European Parliament in November urged antitrust authorities to break up Google and called on the European Commission to consider proposals to unbundle search engines from other commercial services.

The case is Feitelson et al v. Google Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-02007.

(Reporting by Kanika Sikka in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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