Google to pay $90 million to settle legal fight with app developers


FILE PHOTO: The logo of Google is seen at the high profile startups and high tech leaders gathering, Viva Tech,in Paris, France May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Alphabet Inc's Google has agreed to pay $90 million to settle a legal fight with app developers over the money they earned creating apps for Android smartphones and for enticing users to make in-app purchases, according to a court filing.

The app developers, in a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco, had accused Google of using agreements with smartphone makers, technical barriers and revenue sharing agreements to effectively close the app ecosystem and shunt most payments through its Google Play billing system with a default service fee of 30%.

As part of the proposed settlement, Google said in a blog post it would put $90 million in a fund to support app developers who made $2 million or less in annual revenue from 2016-2021.

"A vast majority of U.S. developers who earned revenue through Google Play will be eligible to receive money from this fund, if they choose," Google said in the blog post.

Google said it would also charge developers a 15% commission on their first million in revenue from the Google Play Store each year. It started doing this in 2021.

The court must approve the proposed settlement.

There were likely 48,000 app developers eligible to apply for the $90 million fund, and the minimum payout is $250, according to Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, who represented the plaintiffs.

Apple Inc agreed last year to loosen App Store restrictions on small developers, striking a deal in a class action. It also agreed to pay $100 million.

In Washington, Congress is considering legislation that would require Google and Apple to allow sideloading, or the practice of downloading apps without using an app store. Google says it already allows sideloading. It would also bar them from requiring that app providers use Google and Apple's payment systems.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz in WashingtonEditing by Peter Henderson and Matthew Lewis)

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