02
May
moneymoneymoney
Last Updated: July 30th, 2014

Did your last phone cost too much? Do you hate, hate the fact that Google Search is included in Google's Android operating system? Does the sight of a pre-loaded Gmail app fill you with scorn? Then call the offices of Hagens Berman, a consumer rights class-action law firm. They want to sue the pants off of Google, Because it's easier to get the money out of someone's wallet that way.

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Attorney Steve Berman of Hagens Berman. Photo credit: Seattle Pi

A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California claims that Google is using its position as the juggernaut of American Internet search to artificially inflate the prices of Android phones. According to Hagens Berman, arguing on behalf of two clients in Kentucky and Iowa, Google's Mobile Application Distribution Agreement has the specific intention of maintaining Google's search monopoly, and the side-effects include more expensive smartphones for consumers. The plaintiffs claim that their phones (an HTC EVO 3D and a Galaxy S III) should have cost less and had better search capabilities. The lawyers want damages based on price-fixing for these phones.

Let's pick this apart, shall we? One, attorney Steve Berman spends a lot of time talking about how Google's default search engine and insistence on Google apps on Android phones is a manipulative conspiracy to maintain its search monopoly. And you know what? That's a valid argument. I'm not saying it's correct, but you could certainly lay out points and make a case. Have a gander at some choice quotes from the Hagens Berman press release:

It’s clear that Google has not achieved this monopoly through offering a better search engine, but through its strategic, anti-competitive placement, and it doesn’t take a forensic economist to see that this is evidence of market manipulation... simply put, there is no lawful, pro-competitive reason for Google to condition licenses to pre-load popular Google apps like this.

The more use an internet or mobile search engine gets, the better it performs based on that use... Instead of finding a way to legitimately out-compete other internet and mobile search providers, they instead decided to choke off competition through this cynical, anti-consumer scheme.

Is Google using its position as the search leader to further Android as a smartphone platform? Of course. Is Google also using its relationship with Android phone manufacturers to further its search dominance and capabilities? You betcha. But this lawsuit isn't only about search, and it isn't being filed on behalf of Google's search competitors. It's claiming that because Google is the dominant search engine, and because its terms for using Google Apps on Android phones includes using Google as the default search engine, phone prices are unfairly high to American consumers. Allegations of "market manipulation" and "conspiracy" are included, with non-specific references to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the California Unfair Competition Law.

This comes down to a combination of Google’s power in the U.S. general mobile search market and their power in the realm of tablet and smartphone manufacturers... As a result of the pricing conspiracy, everyone loses. Google and its competitors face an uncompetitive, stagnant market, and consumers are forced into one option.

One: even though people are buying more Android phones than any other smartphone platform, smartphone buyers (and particularly American smartphone buyers) are hardly without options. You can walk into any Wal-Mart in the country and buy an iPhone, and Windows Phones running software made by Google's biggest search competitor are available as well. You can even buy a brand new Blackberry if you're a glutton for punishment.

Two: I don't think Hagens Berman understands the relationship between Google and phone manufacturers, or for that matter, Google and Android. HTC, Samsung, ASUS, and Huawei all make or have made phones running on competing operating systems, and those phones aren't influenced in any way by Google's Android policies. True, Google's license for Search and the Play Store restricts what a manufacturer can do with Android, but only in relation to their own Android products. And if the terms of Google's app certification and inclusion process aren't conducive to a company's bottom line or market strategy, they can take Android and do what they like with the open-source code, as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and innumerable manufacturers in China have already done.

Three: Google is the default search engine on Android phones with Google apps. That's irrefutable. But there's nothing stopping anyone from going to the Play Store and installing search apps from Microsoft, Yahoo, or any other Google competitor. In fact, Google allows competing services for any and all of its built-in apps on the Play Store. If that's not enough, any Android user can side-load apps that are published on competing stores, or even without a centralized distribution. Still not enough? You can actually disable Google's apps on Android 4.0 or later (which both plaintiffs have access to). All of this is possible without rooting or modification - it is, in fact, standard.

Four: Google doesn't control pricing on any hardware except the phones sold in the Play Store. If HTC and Samsung want to keep the $600-700 status quo of new flagship phones, there's nothing Google can do about it. And in fact, there are plenty of alternatives, even among high-end phones, that would seem to rebut the complaint that they should be cheaper. Google's own Nexus 5 and the Moto X are good examples, and smaller manufacturers like Blu are making great, cheap hardware that conforms to Google's standards. The only two plaintiffs named thus far are complaining about phones from 2011 and 2012, but even then, there were Android and non-Android smartphones available at every price point. The fact that the Android platform as consumers imagine it is shared between Google and dozens of phone manufacturers would seem to be the opposite of anti-competitive behavior. One might be able to claim collusion, but it would be pretty difficult to prove it.

Bottom line: in Hans Berman's 600-word press release, I don't see any way that Google's control of search on Android or on the web in general results in more expensive smartphones. There are allegations of secret deals and price-fixing, but allegations are all that they are.

There's a place for class-action lawsuits in a country dominated by giant corporations. But all too often, they're little more than an attempt to cash in on some minor controversy - and the lawyers are the ones who get the lion's share of said cash. This suit is ostensibly on behalf of American consumers, but all the claims it's making seem to be more suited to the web search industry at large. There are issues with Google's dominance of the search industry, and indeed, with the way that Google restricts manufacturers who want access to the Play Store and built-in Google Search. But price-fixing hardware conspiracies are not among them.

These suits tend to either go nowhere, or result in a tiny payout to thousands of people (and a huge paycheck for the lawyers who file the case). If you'd like one of those tiny checks for this perceived injustice, give Hagens Berman a call at the number in the press release below.

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hagens Berman, a consumer rights class-action law firm, today announced it has filed a nationwide antitrust class-action lawsuit against Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) claiming the search engine giant illegally monopolized, and financially and creatively stagnated the American market of internet and mobile search.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Google’s monopoly of these markets stems from the company’s purchasing of Android mobile operating system (Android OS) to maintain and expand its monopoly by pre-loading its own suite of applications onto the devices by way of secret Mobile Application Distribution Agreements (MADA). According to the suit, these agreements were hidden and marked to be viewed only by attorneys.

According to the suit, Google’s role in placing this suite of apps, including Google Play, and YouTube, among others, has hampered the market and kept the price of devices made by competing device manufactures like Samsung and HTC artificially high.

“It’s clear that Google has not achieved this monopoly through offering a better search engine, but through its strategic, anti-competitive placement, and it doesn’t take a forensic economist to see that this is evidence of market manipulation,” said Steve Berman, attorney representing consumers and founding partner of Hagens Berman. “Simply put, there is no lawful, pro-competitive reason for Google to condition licenses to pre-load popular Google apps like this.”

The complaint claims that if device manufacturers bound by Google’s distribution agreements were free to choose a default search engine other than Google, the overall quality of Internet search would improve.

“The more use an internet or mobile search engine gets, the better it performs based on that use,” Berman said. “Instead of finding a way to legitimately out-compete other internet and mobile search providers, they instead decided to choke off competition through this cynical, anti-consumer scheme.”

The complaint notes that Google’s monopoly not only suppresses its competition but also keeps the company itself from improving.

“This comes down to a combination of Google’s power in the U.S. general mobile search market and their power in the realm of tablet and smartphone manufacturers,” Berman said. “As a result of the pricing conspiracy, everyone loses. Google and its competitors face an uncompetitive, stagnant market, and consumers are forced into one option.”

According to the lawsuit, Google’s MADAs are contracts in restraint of trade that are designed to maintain and extend its monopolies in general search and handheld general search.

The lawsuit claims Google is in violation of a variety of federal and state antitrust laws, including the Sherman Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, California Cartwright Act and California Unfair Competition Law.

The named plaintiffs include Gary Feitelson, a resident of Louisville, Kentucky and owner of an HTC EVO 3D mobile phone, and Daniel McKee, a resident of Des Moines, Iowa and owner of a Samsung Galaxy S III mobile phone. According to the complaint, in both situations, the owners’ phones should have cost less and had better search capabilities as the result of competition that would have ensued, had Google’s MADA restraints not existed.

The lawsuit seeks to represent all U.S. purchasers of any Android OS mobile telephone or tablet as to which Google and the manufacturer of such device has entered into a contract or contracts, including the MADA, by which Google has conditioned the right to pre-load any application from a suite of Google applications on to manufacturer’s mandatory acceptance.

The lawsuit seeks damages for individuals who have purchased these devices at an artificially high price due to Google’s alleged price-fixing, anticompetitive restrictions.

Concerned consumers are encouraged to contact a Hagens Berman attorney by emailing Google@hbsslaw.com or calling (206) 623-7292.

Additional information about the investigation is available at http://www.hbsslaw.com/cases-and-investigations/cases/Google.

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    -_-

  • Arber

    Merica' the land where everyone gets sued

    • Adithya Pc

      Uh oh. You shouldn't have said that. Incoming lawsuit in 3..2..1..

  • Zak Taccardi

    What a disgusting company!

    EDIT: the lawyers

  • SeanArmstrong

    Jesus Christ, this can't be serious

  • Mikeb3ll

    I like how Android offers some of the cheapest phones and iPhones can go for over $1,000. Yet they are suing Google....right. ' MURICA!

    Heck they could charge $10,000 for a phone and no one should care, no one is holding a gun to your head when you buy. I swear, idiocracy looks like the future.

    • John

      IKR, Google is charging $350 for the N5 & Moto X and they're now being sued for charging the prices to high. Not to mention OEMs putting Android on their phones doesn't mean Google suddenly gets to control the price (there could be agreements), I mean Android is FREE. Plus Google services is benefiting, without it Android wouldn't deliver what it is delivering now. I bet these lawyers use a Blackberry from 10 years ago and decided to sue Google w/out knowing anything about Android.

      • ddpacino

        Moto G, 179 unlocked... cheaper than most device go ON Contract. Google should counter sue them for stupidity over that charge.

        • Tomasz Kuczynski

          That would be a great idea. Sue 'MURICA for stupidity.

          • Justin W

            Open and shut case, Johnson.

          • nwd1911

            I've seen this once before when I was a rookie.

        • KB

          It would be funny to see Google sue them for defamation.

        • mobilemann

          you dd, (and i know you know this from commenting with you on a real tech site, the verge) know, that it has nothing to do with the N5 or the G's pricing. it's about the google play program, search and video.

          instead, it's a circle jerk of idiots.

    • ddpacino

      That's the baffling part. OF ALL companies to sue for high priced phones, you sue the one company that doesn't actually sell devices for 'expensive' phones. Genius! All the while, because there is Android, there ARE cheap devices out there.

      Get me off this fvcking planet NOW!

      • mobilemann

        why talk about how or why someone could even file this, or if it's true. Just cry because your favorite platform can do no wrong and is being attacked. You complain about apple fanboys, but you're the same thing lol.

        • ddpacino

          ???

        • samosa prince

          kill yourself

          • mobilemann

            lol @samosaprince:disqus, can i get some chutney? How is it basing your ego off your platform preference? Sounds pretty sad:(

          • samosa prince

            you're pathetic.

          • mobilemann

            no, basing what you think of people off of your preference for smartphone is pathetic, fanboy. (and i use a note 3) Enjoy updating facebook, since that's about the extent of what you do with android.

          • samosa prince

            Fact: Apple sell their products for an insane amount of money and Google sell their products for a reasonable amount.

            Yeah. This definitely proves that I'm being biased. ignorant fool.

          • mobilemann

            child: (and if you aren't, you should be ashamed) android flagships cost basically the same amount. I bought a note 3 for example, and it was about $700. (i love it) I appreciate the pricing of the nexus line, but the lawsuit isn't even about that.

          • master94

            WTF? You do realize that under Google smartphone prices have fallen (when including inflation). This lawsuit doesnt account for inflation which is why once again, this consumer group is a idiot. Please dont ignore facts.

          • mobilemann

            10 year olds need to stop responding to me

          • master94

            Sounds more like your the 10 year old since you base your arguments on zero facts. If you don't like Google don't use their services. Simple as that. I don't see why you would come to this site just to fight. Either your a troll or a child pretending to be a adult. So don't pretend you know what your talking about. Fanboys like you are boring since all you can do is call people children or ignore facts. Try responding with some intellect before you expose yourself as an idiot

          • mobilemann

            My god. Child, i love google. I use their services. Do i think they could have a monopoly on search and online video? yes. That's cool. it doesn't really matter.

            My point was, most flagships cost the same as the iphone, and they do. The N5 is a nice device, but i ended up getting a note 3 for the removable battery and the larger screen size, (it's also note nearly as cheap outside of the US.)

            Calm down, fanboy.

          • master94

            First, no they don't. If you played $700 for the note 3 that's your fault for not knowing that the retail price at launch was $659 . Just because you don't know how to purchase goods doesn't mean you blame the OEMS or make false lies that OEMS prices are the same. Apple iPhone for example is $750 unlocked. HTC one is only $600 at launch, the oppp find 7 was even less, LG G3 was $580. Those are huge price differences.

          • mobilemann

            iphone is 649, note 3, 659. Either is 700 with this thing called tax. None are close to the nexus in the US. Those prices are all typical for launches. Keep reaching.

    • master94

      These people suing are idiots who can not understand that the Two hundred they use to pay was for in return for a contract. . Cosnumer groups are idiots who are always Apple fan boys. Google will win in court and I hope they do it the google way by trolling the opponents

    • bamalam

      Some companies are holding uns to the parents heads. Guns on which is written if you dont buy this phone for your kids we will shoot you with the looser to be bullied bullet.

    • mobilemann

      this comments upvotes are why i troll this site. i don't get how people can actually miss the point soo hard.

  • solbin

    I don't see how google has any say in what a HTC or Samsung device should cost. That is up to HTC and Samsung. You can go in and buy a prepaid Android phone for under $100. The Android OS has a line of phones consuming ALL price points. This needs to be thrown out of the court before it starts taking more away from tax payers' money.

  • Tíghearnán Carroll

    Is a lawsuit like this really a surprise to anyone?

  • vyktorsouza

    k then, good luck using Bing

  • kwiato

    I would love google to fix prices here in Poland where we have to pay equivalent of 526$ for the 16GB version of nexus 5. Can i make a lawsuit out of that?

    • vyktorsouza

      same in Brazil, paid the same amount I'd pay for a S4 on my Nexus 5 and yet we have to keep reading how our phones are "cheap"

      • someone755

        Same here in Slovenia. When the Nexus 4 was out we had to pay 504€ for a 32GB variant. Not cool.

        • Johnny Chase

          At least you got a 32 GB Nexus 4 variant.

          • ddpacino

            Yea, where was THAT?!?! I would have paid to import that. Never knew it existed.

        • Arthur Dent

          The US never saw that variant so prices aren't comparable.

          • someone755

            Whoops, my mistake. We got the 16GB variant.
            Also it's down to 400€ now. The same as the N5 costs here now. :T

          • Woe, Is [S]unjay

            There was no 32GB variant.

    • Kailen

      You clearly missunderstanding one thing - It is not a Google's fault, that your local stores offer Nexus phone for higher prize...

    • Arthur Dent

      Not sure about Poland or Slovenia, but many European countries have VAT included in the price. The US does NOT include tax in the price. So, while the final post-tax prices are not exactly the same, they are closer than they appear at first glance. For example, in California a 16GB N5 would be $349 + 9.25% sales tax = $381. Still much cheaper than $526, but VAT is much higher than California sales tax (isn't it around 20%)?

      • pleasespareit

        VAT percentage is dependent on the country, it's variable. It's 20% in the UK and you're right. Another problem that people don't notice is that Google doesn't sell the phone directly in a lot of countries, people are buying from resellers and resellers can charge whatever they want.

    • Krzysztof Jozwik

      Find a friend who lives in a country where it's officially sold?

  • coolscrotie

    Let's hope they'll get this sorted out. The day that android is forced to start shipping without the play store is the day the platform can be buried because it'll be a fragmented mess

  • Defenestratus

    What an assmunch.

    I bet he uses Bing for his search engine. He looks like the kind of assmunch that would use bing.

    • Mike Reid

      Probably uses Google like almost everyone else. Then again, with a lawsuit pending, it might be best for him to NOT use Google. GMail, etc. (unless he can sue for privacy loss in a court case.)

      Anyone who thinks this guy is "stupid" are loosing sight of how the real world works.

      Real world is NOT about what's "smart", or "right" or "fair". It's about making money. And that's what he's trying to do.

      I'm not defending him, in fact the opposite. Oil companies try to make money too, and cutting corners, with resultant eco damage, are among the ways they make money. And that's bad too.

      • Krzysztof Jozwik

        I'm pretty sure he will lose.

        • KB

          I'm pretty sure he will still make money doing this, if only for the free advertising that attracts more stupid people looking to him for other frivolous lawsuits.

  • GuidZilla

    Apparently Class-Action is their bread and expensive butter". https://www.facebook.com/hbsslaw

  • Jordan Khoviteri-Zadeh

    These guys are going to go crazy once they find out how expensive iPhones are...

  • Pratik Holla

    This stupid lawyer has no understanding about how Google has structured android or its relationship with hardware manufacturers. He is just looking to make a quick buck.... thats all

  • Bob G

    Surprised this wasn't a David article.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I am so burned out on legal news.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Because fucking 'Murica and its law system, sigh

    • David Thoren

      And the legal system will smack this down in short order. These jokers are just looking for the publicity. The fees though.. I would like to see those be recoverable. Defending against obviously stupid lawsuits shouldn't cost the defendant in cases like this.

  • Giacomo Pegorer

    Pff, bullshit

  • Patrick Beliveau

    The fun part is that it's not even all the OEM's like Samsung and HTC that jack the prices up. Phone companies are just as much to blame for the price hikes on phones. Rogers here in Canada tells me a 16GB Nexus 5 costs 500$ on contract, but I can get a 32GB version with shipping and taxes for less than that...

    Google isnt to blame for the prices here, and Android while usually associated with Google is so open sourced you do not need a single google app on your phone and still have it work as intended.

    This is just the typical sue everyone behavior that has been fostered by the broken system in the US, and the greedy lawyer looking to make a buck off of it.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      They're not going to make a buck off of it, and I'm guessing they know that. Class action specialty firms often file suits they know they can't win because it generates huge publicity for the firm. Even if they end up dropping this suit and eating some legal fees, the publicity will likely more than have been worth it.

      • Steve Freeman

        The courts should fine them enough so it's not financially responsible to pull crap like this. And any other lawyers who file similar suits.

    • Jeff Langsner

      I think you meant 500$ Off-Contract. The Nexus 5 is 49.99 on a 2-year contract.

      But either way yes, it's pretty bad that the Off-Contract Nexus 5 16gb version is hundreds of dollars more than the Play Store edition. Atrocious.

      • Patrick Beliveau

        Yeah I meant off contract... but to get out of the contract, i'd have to pay the balance owing... their retail value for the phone/months left on the contract. which works out to an extra 6$/month if I wanted to switch carriers right now.

        • Jeff Langsner

          Yeah for sure. I unfortunately bought an HTC One X on Rogers when it came out on April 30th 2011, on a 3 f'n year contract, right before they abolished 3 year contracts, so if I wanted to upgrade to a Galaxy Note 3 right now (after two years) the early upgrade fee would be 330 dollars Canadian. Pretty terrible. But I was proactive and bought a used Nexus 4 last year for 300 dollars on the dot. Now I don't feel the need to upgrade any time soon. Just wish I wasn't still paying off the HTC One XL, which to this day is no longer supported by Rogers and had only 1 OTA, from Android 4.0.3 ICS to 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. I gave it to my girlfriend since she doesn't care about all that mumbo jumbo.

          • http://www.twitter.com/joshuaworth Joshua Worth

            Uhh what? Is it still April 2013 in Canada? If not then news flash its been 3 years since April 30th 2011. Oh and is your HTC a One X or a One XL?

          • Jeff Langsner

            Lol dude, it was a typo. I meant 2012, not 2011.

            And HTC One X and XL is the exact same thing in Canada. Although it's technically the One XL (as in the LTE/Snapdragon variant), it's officially branded and marketed as the just "One X" in Canada (Although isn't that also the case with the AT&T variant also?).
            Confusing isn't it.

          • Krzysztof Jozwik

            lol@a 3 year contract. Why would you agree to that?

          • Jeff Langsner

            Because up until very recently, Canada didn't do 2 year contracts, it was 3 years standard. Some carriers did have 2 year contracts but the subsidy was terrible. The One X did have the option for 2 years but at 550 dollars, whereas the 3 year was 175. Recent wireless code changes made by the CRTC have now made 2 year contracts standard, but now our plans are ridiculously over priced with very little data.

    • John Smith

      and the FCC fees every month.... everyone has their hands in the pie

  • Jephri

    What on earth is a forensic economist?

    • USiT

      Everytime i read that i read "foreskin economist" and then i wonder how much i would get for mine

      • Mikeb3ll

        I work as a 'foreskin economist' and the base salary sucks but some of the tips are HUGE!

      • jesuguru

        In the Old Testament, David earned King Saul's daughter in marriage for 100 (enemy) foreskins. Your single skin might get you a local wench.

  • Crispin Swickard

    You mean the FREE OS on the phones not made by Google, and since my N5 was undoubtedly subsidized by Google I payed a very reasonable price without having to have a Contract? What a horrible company... Though all the search stuff is a bit much. That's why I have used Nova since its initial beta period since I hate the always there search bar. The search stuff is excessive, but you don;t have to deal with it if you don't want to.

    • Roh_Mish

      I like the search bar actually. Tap it an you are ready to write. Tap mic icon and you are ready to speak. Nexus 5 even has hotword in GNL.
      But 3 ways to access same app is a bit much.

      • Crispin Swickard

        I rarely even bring up the Google app. I just bring up chrome, and search so I don't have to be redirected potentially to Chrome anyway. Hell from time to time since Google Now doesn't seem to do anything useful for myself I even disable it. I know I am not representative of everyone. I for one never use voice actions, some people like to talk at their phone. I don't. I am just stating that for people that don't wanted to be seeing Google search prompts at all times don't have to. They toss search at you at all times, but at least for now you mostly don't have to see it. I am not attacking you, or Google for that matter, just to be clear.

        • Roh_Mish

          Google now gets tricky to use at times. For example it shows the navigation/route card sometimes even after one or two search and somehow are the one which I don't need any more. And the one which I need don't show up even after 5-6 time and sometimes come after my trip is over and I don't need it. That is frustrating and the U.S. only requirement.
          But other than that now has well adapted to my needs and my living.

          • Crispin Swickard

            The only thing I get consistently is weather that always seems to be off, and the nearby events card that are 90% of the time locations 1 to 2 hours drive from me. The shipping part never functioned even when ordering an N5 from the Play Store. The travel card for my work drive normally comes up, but for whatever reason it doesn't tend to be the most reliable. I like the promise of Google Now, but the performance for me personally has next to useless. Some people it seems to do things for, and that would be great, but for whatever reason it doesn't seem to care for me much.

  • Sruly J

    I read about this lawsuit yesterday and I really found this lawsuit so pathetic

  • Prism

    So why isn't anyone sueing Apple for overpricing their cheap toys?

    • Tom Harman

      no shiz, they are the biggest offender of overpricing their products.

      • Lisandro O Oocks

        no way! they're super affordable in comparison to how much Tech they have in them, sort of. And of course they don't force any bloatware like Siri, iCal, App Store, Apple Maps, among other crap that we as consumers can't leave with out apparently.

        • bamalam

          They ARE forcing it

      • bamalam

        TAG Heuer

    • jordanjay29

      Okay, serious reply? Because they own a tiny percentage of the marketshare outside of the US. Android has an 80% foothold in worldwide markets, it's only in the US where it has fierce competition from iPhone.

      Probably also because it's more difficult to sue a company for an internal practice than to sue a company for how they interact with their colleagues/clients like Google is doing to Android OEMs.

  • Josh

    can I sue Hagens Berman for trying to distroy my email, search, phone back bone, etc

  • Jeremiah Payne

    Am I the only American who hates this mentality alot of Americans have?

    • h4rr4r

      No, a lot of people share your delusion.
      The simple fact is since we have no consumer protection to speak of, no real system of social welfare for anything but the absolute impoverished and a lack of public healthcare we end up with a society were pretty much every ill must be addressed via the courts. That means going to court becomes very common.
      In this case might be unjustified, but that is not the norm.

      • Jeremiah Payne

        Actually there is alot of customer protection, you obviously haven't run a business there are a lot of stupid things we have to do in order to not get a customer reporting us

        • h4rr4r

          Go visit another country and say that. Heck, just read about EU consumer protection laws.

          • Jeremiah Payne

            I obviously know more about economics than you because last time I check in the EU it is super expensive to run a business and unemployment amount people under 25 if like 60%

          • h4rr4r

            1. That was not what we were discussing.
            We were discussing consumer protection, their consumer protection laws are stronger. The USA has very little, most states even lack a fit for purpose law.

            2. Not even Greece has that high an unemployment rate for under 25s from what i can tell. They are the worst.
            http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/pdf/themes/21_youth_unemployment.pdf

            The Germans are around 8%.

            In short you are changing the subject and making stuff up.

      • tekfr33kn

        h4rr4r, it's responses like this that generate such lawsuits and explains why other countries mock the US. The best consumer protection is using your own head. So, basically you are abdicating the use of intelligence to government who must think for you, right? The fact that "pretty much every ill must be addressed via the courts" is a result of whiners who think they are owed something because they didn't read the instructions or used their brains. 90% of court cases are frivolous.

        • h4rr4r

          That is a typica not very well thought out response.

          I am indeed suggesting sometimes someone else might know better. I have but one college degree, I am not an expert in every field. This is why I go to doctors and don't treat my health with magic water sold my charlatans. The government is just a group of citizens with jobs to perform for society.

          90% of court cases are quite valid. Please do go spend an afternoon at your local court and see.

          • tekfr33kn

            Playing the I'm rubber, you're glue routine as a response only proves my point. By the way, I try to stay out of court but on the rare occasion I've been there, most cases were frivolous. Use the cells between your ears and you won't need the government to think for you.

    • Guest123

      No, you are not.

      Want to fix America? Get rid of all the lawyers. . . and the bankers would really seal the deal.

      • Justin W

        You're forgetting the politicians.

  • Michael Pahl
    • ddpacino

      LOL!!!! That's the most ingenius and creative way I've ever seen a figure given.

      • jesuguru

        Didn't you mean finger? Or are you looking at her figure..... Freudian slip I'd say.

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      Oh is that from The House of Lies?

      • Ibrahim Yusuf

        I think it's from Veronica Mars

        • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

          Oh, yeah, you're right. Turns out that Kristen Bell was in both shows

          • bamalam

            She looked real good in Heroes

    • jordanjay29

      Favorite scene from that movie, hands down.

  • Josh

    Real question. If one thing they are suing about is google being the default search engine, what should they do for the phones? Should they have a different one like go dog go, until that gets to bad. Should they have a list when you first setup your phone of the hundreds of different ones out there?

    • mobilemann

      easy solution: ask the user during the tutorial / setup.

      isn't it something like that, that microsoft did?

      • Steve Freeman

        Yep, in Europe or something.

  • David

    It's also worth adding that this Steve Berman guy behind the suit was a Microsoft lawyer, another Microsoft lawyer tried and failed to sue Google for antitrust a few years back: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110901/14553415771/court-tosses-out-ridiculous-antitrust-lawsuit-against-google.shtml

    This purpose of this M.O. is likely obtaining documents during discovery to attack Google with. As mentioned in the post this lawsuit is confused and ridiculous, it's just a press release that included all the generic anti-Google tropes and attacks, best just ignore it and let the plaintiff do their own PR.

    • UtopiaNH

      Microsoft's very sneaky with it's FUD campaigns.

      • Steve Freeman

        I was actually wondering if this was all a ploy from either Microsoft or Yahoo (likely not Apple, since they don't really have an internet search platform, afaik).

        • UtopiaNH

          Microsoft has a long history of using it's former employees, shell companies, etc to attack its competitors.

          Fairsearch is largely funded by Microsoft for example.

          • KojiroAK

            Though, a genius name to cover up.
            Neither of the used words I would connect to MS.

  • Whocares

    Dude, I'm not an android user but what the f. is this? Sued because the phone is too expensive?

  • SlinkyScott

    I don't even need to read any more than the first 2 paragraphs to have enough information to say this:

    If you don't like Android-powered phones, don't buy them! I have a feeling that's what this case will come down to. No one forced these lawyers to buy Android phones as opposed to iPhones or Windows Phones.

  • John Smith

    I think buying a house is too expensive....

    • Scott

      Can we sue the banks?

      • John Smith

        yes, they have a monopoly on the money. I think we have a case...

        • Scott

          Better call Saul!

  • Gustavo Lima

    If Gapps didn't come out of the box, I would download them ALL. Gmail, google search, youtube and chrome are the best out there. I use it on my Windows, Linux, Android, and I'd use it even if I was dumb enough to buy a Mac

    • Lisandro O Oocks

      aight! i even bought a Nexus just for the fact i wouldn't be forced into a browser i wouldn't use

  • Haskell Gray

    Didn't the Samsung Fascinate come with Bing as the default....and that phone did really well!

  • Felipe

    Freaking ridiculous !

    The US must stop all this nonsense... their legal system is screwed. As much as the patents and trademark legal famework.

    • mobilemann

      adults are talking buddy.

    • David Thoren

      So... this isn't the US doing this. It's a couple people and a law firm looking for some publicity. This won't go anywhere. That's the legal system working.
      I do wish it was easier for the winning party to collect fees for crap like this though.

      I will agree with you that patents and copyright (not so much trademark) need work.

  • Andy_in_Indy

    This sounds like one of those bad marketing campaigns from Microsoft.

  • Nomaan

    What the hell? Smartphones from any manufacturer are cheapest in the US and they are complaining?

    • Steve Freeman

      Well sure, but we (or so I've heard at least) pay more per month for service than most countries. And haven't you heard? America is the land of complainers.

  • Arthur Dent

    What a complete and total jerkoff. Screw you, Berman.

    This looks like some no-talent hack lawyer trying to make a name for himself and get a cash grab settlement from a big faceless corporation. I'm sure he's doing this out of the kindness of his heart won't pocket millions out of any potential settlement for himself. Right, Berman? RIIIIGHT???

    I hope this shit gets thrown out of court immediately, with prejudice, and with sanctions for this asshat for wasting the court's time.

  • Ahmad Nadeem

    I thought he took the big cases

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SohanaHaider/ Sohana Haider

      He will defend Google. :)

  • Asphyx

    Hmmm Apple Phones cost more than most Android Phones, Is Google responsible for that too?

    • Roh_Mish

      Yes. Google maps are NOT included and they use bing. It increases the prices. Sue google for not including their services on iOS

  • JT3

    So, let me get this straight. Android phones are unfairly price-fixed... against what? iPhones? Windows Phones? Blackberries? Um... have you looked at the prices for those phones?

    • Arthur Dent

      There is plenty of competition in the mobile OS space today. This guy is a nutcase.

  • BD1971

    You can also go to the browsers on the phone and pick if you want the default search engine to be bing or yahoo.

    • Lisandro O Oocks

      but why would you?

  • Cael

    Google's payout should be a $1 credit to the Play Store to everyone with an Android phone. Problem solved.

    • jesuguru

      Except these lawyers would still rewarded with their fat fees, which they don't deserve.

  • Steve Freeman

    This reminds me of a lawsuit filed (and I believe won) against Microsoft back in the day regarding how IE was installed by default on new Windows installations. So they had to release a special version (I think this took place in Europe) that had a special screen came up on the first login that had several different browsers available to be installed.

    I'm not saying I agree with it in any way, shape, or form. Especially not in this instance when there is a lot of competition in the market. And since as you said, phone manufacturers can, and do, include secondary apps to replace or as another option to the default Google apps.

    The lawyer's just trying to make some cash.

    • mobilemann

      I dont' think they are talking about a monopoly in the phone business as much as search.

      • Steve Freeman

        They also mention Youtube, and other apps. "According to the suit, Google’s role in placing this suite of apps, including Google Play, and YouTube, among others, has hampered the market". They're basically saying "All this cool stuff gets pre-loaded, and nobody feels the need to look for anything else, which would be crappier anyway", and that since Android has a larger chunk of the market share, the Android apps and devices are giving them an advantage in the internet search field.

        • mobilemann

          i think they are more saying, with their marketshare and tools, a competitor no matter how good, would not be able to gain mindshare. (They might be right.)

          • Steve Freeman

            OK, but how about if they shelf this lawsuit until a promising competitor shows up? Yahoo and Bing both had their chances and lost, and they were losing well before Android even reared its head.

            And I know it would be tough for a new competitor to come along now and beat out Google, but it's not as if they legally need to make it EASY for competitors, right?

          • mobilemann

            One way to look at it. Remember that monopolies in the past have created conditions in which no one could get to the level of being able to compete. Like with Maps. Google is so far ahead of the rest of the world right now, i have no idea how they will catch up.

            What if some new company has a breakthrough in routing software etc? Currently, we all hope they work for google, which kind of isn't right.

          • Steve Freeman

            I understand what you're saying. Really, I do. However, Maps is the best GPS mapping software out there right now. Google search is the most powerful internet search engine. Youtube is the most popular...however you would describe it.

            At least when Microsoft was sued, IE had strong competitors. They weren't as popular in regards to market share, but the competitors actually had solid products.There's nothing like that now to compete with Google search, Youtube, Maps, etc.

            They're trying to take down Google (well, make them pay) without having anything better in mind. It's like starting a campaign for a political office without knowing who you want to be your candidate.

            Trying to force Google to be less competitive when they're not really competing with anyone right now (Bing and Yahoo don't really count) doesn't make any sense.

          • mobilemann

            "At least when Microsoft was sued, IE had strong competitors. They weren't as popular in regards to market share, but the competitors actually had solid products."

            i hate to say it, but this means there's even more reason to actually file said lawsuit.

            it's not just google though, it's the entire premise of vertical integration, using strengths in one market to dominate another. Funnily enough google do this better than apple, who have been trying to make it work for even longer:D

            It's all good though. Google is a incredibly smart, resourceful company. I wouldn't worry about it. Really, imo the worst that will happen is a prompt when you're setting up your google phone asking you what search engine you would like to use.

            Solutions like that, don't hurt anyone, and help the little guy, even if it's only a tiny bit. That's not a bad ending, right?

          • Steve Freeman

            Yeah, but trying to make them be less competitive when there's nobody to compete WITH doesn't make sense. Hell, for a while Yahoo (or Bing, I can't remember which) was actually using Google's search algorithm's for their own engine. Someone ran identical searches on Yahoo or Bing, and Google, and got the same exact results.

          • mobilemann

            i hear you, but that's the way monopoly laws currently work, and i don't know a better way. I'm sure they will all be fine:D

          • Satan’s Taint

            Talking out of your ass.

          • mobilemann

            @satanstaint:disqus grown ups are talking. There are chicken nuggets inside, dear.

  • darkdude1

    I'm confused - iOS doesn't let you change the default web browser, or the default mail app, or any default anything, why aren't they complaining about that?

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      Market share. This whole situation is due to Google's (Android's?) prevailing market share with ~80% of the smartphone (And tablet) market in the US

      • Steve Freeman

        Though I don't remember any lawsuits being filed when Apple had a large chunk of the smartphone market.

        • darkdude1

          It confuses me - Microsoft were forced to put browserchoice onto computers due to having IE as default, and yet Apple is not expected to do the same? Users should be able to use whatever browser they want, even so, Chrome on iOS might as well be Safari as it's the same rendering engine.

          • mobilemann

            lol, kids.

            what does chrome on android use? (webkit, and a fork of it, webcore)
            what does safari on iOS use? (webkit)
            who started webkit? apple:D

            is this about mobile OS share? does it have nothing to do with search?

            i know you're blindly defending, but fucks sake, i hate children.

          • Steve Freeman

            "Kids"? What, because I'm not a developer and I don't know or care what devkit Chrome, Safari, or anything else uses?

          • mobilemann

            kids. (look at who i was responding too!!, not you!) I really hate fanboys, and he was playing the "but apple and microsoft, in completely different circumstances didn't have x and y happen to them?!

            the premise that they are directly comparable is a joke, and in my experience it's only kids that simplify things to this level.

            and who likes teenagers anyway? besides teenagers;D? no offense at all by the way, we all go through it, it's just the most obnoxious part of human existence, and the sick thing is, even if you are a teen now, you'll agree with me in your 30s:D

          • Steve Freeman

            Gotcha, but I think he was agreeing with the article in general, and me, in that Google's being targeted by this lawsuit, and Apple's being ignored for doing the same thing.

            The lawsuit isn't targeting Google Search on Android devices specifically, it's basically saying Android devices come with these pre-loaded apps that make them more attractive to users, so by default they use Google Search. So anything pre-loaded on Android devices could be brought into question, and that argument could EASILY be brought to Apple and Microsoft devices as well. Hell, I'm sure the default search on Windows phones is Bing.

          • mobilemann

            which i still think could be solved with something really small like "which search engine would you like to be your default? :D

            but i hear what you're saying man. We all agree it should be fair to everyone, it's just a question of where that pin actually lands.

          • Steve Freeman

            Yeah, it definitely could, but then the lawsuit should be targeting all three mobile OS developers, that's all.

          • Satan’s Taint

            What a dick attitude. Coming from someone with man in their name, pretty obvious you have some issues, old man.

          • mobilemann

            ahh yes. Coming from you, that really hurts. You cut deep for a taint, but you are satan's taint. And fucks sake obviously i have issues; (i have a wife that wants these disgusting children things soon).

          • Krzysztof Jozwik

            Nothing more manly than calling someone "satan's taint" Odd you're complaining about people acting like children when you can't even capitalize "I"

          • mobilemann

            I was more talking about brand cheerleading , are you one to he casting stones on capitalization? I guess you have no other argument?

            Kids.

          • didibus

            That was only in the EU though, never in North-America.

      • mobilemann

        (they don't have that marketshare for tablets or phones in the US) I think it's more about search and youtube.

        • Steve Freeman

          Android (not Google itself, Android as a whole) has the largest chunk of market share in the US, but yeah, I don't think it's even close to 80%.

          • mobilemann

            absolutely.

  • http://shywim.fr/ Matthieu Harlé

    And why they go in justice now for two years old device, WHY ?

    • Steve Freeman

      The devices mentioned were just examples. Relax.

  • vmry2

    I would like to sue Apple for stamping a half eaten apple on the back of all their devices. Because of this, I always find myself obsessively inspecting every apple for bite marks before purchasing them. This has resulted in trauma and wasted time from which I will never recover.

    • mobilemann

      lol

  • Cody Shiranai

    But the pricing on iPhones (also not controlled often by them) is ok? Which is regularly just out of control for what they give.

  • Cuvis

    "Your Honor... Nexus 5. The defense rests."

    • Steve Freeman

      I don't...I don't get it.

      • mobilemann

        because it's considered cheap. (and to us in the US, it is compared to other flagships.)

        • Steve Freeman

          Oh, that, yeah. I brought that up down below, that the devices actually sold and branded by Google have all been significantly cheaper than other smartphone options.

      • Cuvis

        It's hard to argue that Google was colluding with competitors to set prices when they sell their phone for half the price of any competitor's products in the same class.

        • Steve Freeman

          That's not even what they're talking about in the lawsuit. Did you read it? They're complaining about Google supposedly making Android devices too expensive somehow, not too cheap.

          • Cuvis

            Which is why the Nexus is the perfect counter-argument.

          • Steve Freeman

            Yes...and your first comment makes sense. But your second comment seems to make the opposing argument.

          • Krzysztof Jozwik

            You are stupid. Good job. I hear there are some republicans who need voting for.

  • Ed

    I think steak is to expensive ! Can we sue the cows on there monopoly ?

  • Quinton

    I just sent them an email asking them to please use their "legal might" to do something worthwhile instead of going after Google for phones two or three generations old. Seriously, what a waste of resources--these guys should be fighting for net neutrality, or squashing patent trolls.

    I urge you all to do the same. :-)

  • Lisandro O Oocks

    Should lawyers be sued because they hold a monopoly on all the STUPID?

  • W.W
  • Will S.

    Is it still April fools??

  • Magnus100

    Tired of these morally bankrupt, money grubbing, slimy bastard attorneys.

  • godutch

    If you thought the phone was too expensive you shouldn't have bought it, it's as simple as that. These people should be put under state supervision, they are clearly incapable of making their rational and free decisions.

  • JWolf_PDX

    Go home Hagens Berman, you're drunk.

  • gmaninvan

    What a load of crap lol. I guess he thinks that Google should spend millions developing android then just give it away with no method of receiving any revenue from the platform.

    Plus, how did they get their share from anticompetitive tactics? Nobody is stopping you from going to Bing in the browser on your desktop? Installing the Bing app on your phone. In fact, android is the only platform that lets you set the default OS search. One WP you are locked to Bing, iOS locked to Siri. Bing even pays for product placement in a ton of tv shows. I have never seen Google advertise like that. If anything, Google is successful in spite of it because they have a good product lol.

    Some people are idiots.

  • DrewNusser

    Gary Feitelson and Daniel McKee, if you are reading this, know that the two of you are enormous douche sandwiches.

  • Wesley Modderkolk

    Wow, A Google OS has Google software, how dare they!

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    I'm pretty sure though that even when a device is certified for Google apps, Google don't restrict what other services the manufacturer can add to the device - including all manner of services that compete with Google's own offerings - like S Voice, the numerous music and video services from HTC, Samsung and pretty much everyone else. Hell my HTC One X even had it's own mapping application that required me to download an app from the play store called "Skip HTC Locations" just so that I was able to use Google Maps as my default mapping application because the HTC phone didn't give me a choice, any maps based intent would immediately open HTC Locations. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aebeinroth.SkipHTCLocations

  • chris125

    America. Where you sue for anything and everything. This has to be one of the worst suits ever. You don't have to use google services look at amazon and MS with the Nokia android devices. But let's try to get money out of these companies for no reason and waste more money on lawyers and court costs. Smh

  • selonmoi

    I don't support a lawsuit like this, but I wouldn't really be surprised if Google's practices are anti-competitive. What seems most problematic is the restriction the prevents an OEM from offering any devices with the Google Experience suite if they also make even one non-Google AOSP device. Google may make AOSP, but they chose not to control it legally, and they probably shouldn't be trying to exert indirect control over how other companies use it.

    It's tricky. As a Google user, I appreciate that they're trying to keep the ecosystem intact across different partners' devices while still making AOSP a commons available to others, but looking objectively at what they're actually doing, it doesn't seem right.

    The stuff about prices is simply ridiculous. Google's various practices are directly responsible for pushing smartphone prices way down over the past several years.

  • Major_Pita

    He looks more like a Dick than a Steve,

  • ltredbeard

    Weren't those phones made around the same time that Bing was on some Verizon Android Phones?

  • topgun966

    Attorney Steve Berman of Hagens Berman has just been discovered to be using Google to see what Android actually is after filing the lawsuit! He stated he was forced at gunpoint by Sergey Brin to stop using Bing and use Google. Planning on another lawsuit for $1 Googol (or 10 thousand sexdecillion for our smart readers) for emotional distress.

  • theseanteam

    Irony that this lawyer's actions could result in higher prices of smartphones. We should all class action sue him!

  • dude

    On the other hand, I absolutely will not buy a phone with Bing search.

  • hyperbolic

    He actually has a point..
    GO STEVE! ;)

  • bamalam

    Lawyers confirmed hired by Apple Execs!!

  • Johnny Bravo

    as someone who isnt nearly knowledgeable in the justice system, i wonder if the the reprecutions for making and filing bogus claims like this are high

  • Zimmerman

    Only in America people can someone bring such a pathetic case to the courts

  • master94

    Update, they have bing on their side. I knew MS or Apple had to behind it

  • BigMixxx

    Amazon. All I have to say....

  • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

    @MichaelCriderAP:disqus Big kudos to you for a fantastically written (and well-researched) article! I'm just really impressed with the thoroughness of it. One more reason why @archon810:disqus and AP is THE Android blog to keep coming back to!

  • RJ

    This has to be the DUMBEST lawsuit of all time. Look at Apple and the iPhone. At one point THEY wouldn't even allow Google Maps on their phones... talk about a monopoly. Just as they stated above. Google Nexus devices are much cheaper than any of the devices put out by any of the major manufacturers -- for some devices, half the price as a comparable smart phone from a leading competitor. How is that "TOO EXPENSIVE"? The people artificially inflating the price of smart phones are the manufacturers themselves, not the company that makes the software.

  • Fellwalker

    I just hope that the lawyers get censured by the judge for contempt of court (for such a frivolous and ridiculous case), and maybe struck off by the law society for bringing the profession into (more) disrepute. But this is America where Apple can get patents for the blindingly obvious, so who knows?

  • WhyWai

    I think they got the wrong memo. their target should be Apple, not Google lol...

  • Alex Coleman

    Ok so the problems that I have with this is that

    1. you are buying a google android phone for a reason. so of course it is going to have google search on it. That is one of the points of buying a google android phone.

    2 Google does not have direct control of the price that the manufacturers are charging for the phone because the Android OS is an Open Source software.

    3. They are not locking down the phones to the point that you have to use google services all the time. I mean if you go to the market and look up bing I am more than certain that there are several apps that would do what you want so that you did not need to search through google or do google email etc. etc. etc.

    4. No one is holding a gun to the consumers head saying that they need to buy the new phone the day it comes out and pay 700 for said phone. and for the consumers that are smart enough to go searching they can find google play versions of the phones or find deals or find people like oneplus that will be selling a top of the line phone unlocked with cyanogenmod on it for 350.

    5. The people are just try to make a quick buck. the sad thing is that neither of the plaintiffs even have top of the line phones or can even experience the new versions of android.

    Case and point is that this case should be drop as there is not really any case to be made.

    P.S. Sorry about my bad punctuation

  • WallBreaker

    Is this a joke? The Evolution of android and its vast improvements are thanks to Google, why would I want to sue the company that improves the Android OS???

  • Zeus o’ the North

    Hmmmm... Bought my windows pay as you go smart phone foe $75 (no contract) and couldn't be happier. Lots of options out there

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