Plaintiffs drop class-action suit claiming Google Android monopoly

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Plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Google voluntarily dropped allegations that the company illegally created an Internet and mobile search monopoly through Android terms of use agreements.

Law firm Hagens Berman filed notice with the Northern California District Court on Friday, announcing plaintiffs have withdrawn their antitrust suit against Google without prejudice.

The original complaint dates back to May 2014, when two Android device owners sued Google over claims that its "secret" Mobile Application Distribution Agreements (MADA) restrictions artificially inflated smartphone costs by stifling competition. These distribution agreements were highly confidential and meant only to be viewed by attorneys.

Further, MADA terms impeded growth in the U.S. search industry by snuffing out competing technologies, plaintiffs argued. Google allegedly forced manufacturers to bundle built-in Android apps like YouTube and GooglePlay under strict "all-or-nothing" conditions.

The suit sought injunctive relief and damages under violation of both federal and state antitrust laws, including the Sherman Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, California Cartwright Act and the California Unfair Competition Law.

In February, however, Google successfully mounted arguments to dismiss an amended version of the complaint, a move that likely led to today's voluntary withdrawal. An order handed down by Judge Beth Labson Freeman at the time agreed with Google's assertion the plaintiffs' claims were deficient on multiple counts, including a distinct lack of evidence supporting the theory that MADAs restricted consumer choice and hindered innovation.

"For one, accepting Plaintiffs' argument would permit any consumer of Internet search to have standing to sue for injunctive relief, as the proposed class of Android OS device consumers is no different from the Apple device user or the computer search user when it comes to innovation and choice in the market for Internet search products," Judge Freeman wrote, adding later in her decision, "Defendant uses the MADAs to capitalize on the preference of consumers (like Plaintiffs) for the status quo, but this does not victimize them or restrict their ability to 'mak[e] free choices between market alternatives.'"

After Google's motion to dismiss was granted, plaintiffs were left to rework claims under narrow constraints addressing only the Sherman Act and California's Unfair Competition Law. Today was the prescribed due date to file a second amended complaint.