SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Esmeralda Swartz, Kevin Jackson, Glenn Rossman

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Berger & Montague, P.C. And Del Sole Cavanaugh Stroyd LLC Announce The Filing Of A Class Action Lawsuit Against Google Alleging That The Google Play App Store Permits And Entices Minors To Make Unauthorized In-App Purchases Of Game Currency

PHILADELPHIA, March 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of parents whose minor children downloaded a free or modestly priced game app on the Google Play App Store, and then racked up unauthorized charges for in-app game currency without the parents' knowledge or authorization. The lawsuit, captioned Imber-Gluck v. Google Inc., No. 5:14-cv-01070 (N.D. Cal.), was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, and is brought on behalf of all persons in the United States who paid for an unauthorized purchase of game currency made by their minor children through the Google Play App Store.

Specifically, the case alleges that the Google Play App Store permits users to browse and download games either free or at a minimal cost.  Among the thousands of Apps offered in the Google Play App Store are many games targeted at children.  Although there are numerous games that are offered for free or at a nominal cost, many are designed to induce purchases of what Google refers to as "In-App Purchases" or "In-App Content" that provide in-game currency to facilitate playing the game as it was designed to be played.  These games are engineered to be highly addictive and require the purchase of in-game currency at times to continue playing.  The games frequently permit the purchase of in-game currency in large amounts – as much as $100 per purchase or more.

Although Google requires users to authenticate their accounts by entering a password prior to purchasing and/or downloading a game or buying in-game currency, once the password is entered, Google permits the user of a device to make additional purchases for up to thirty minutes without re-entering the password.  This practice is designed to enable children to purchase in-game currency without parental permission and without having to enter a password.  The purchases are then billed directly to the parent or guardian.

This lawsuit follows Apple's $32.5 million settlement in January 2014 with the Federal Trade Commission over similar allegations, as well as a private class action lawsuit that Apple settled in 2013 with its customers, in which Berger & Montague, P.C. was also involved. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted final approval to the Apple settlement on October 18, 2013.  Unlike Google, Apple changed its practices so that its users must enter their password to make all in-App purchases.

"Google has unfairly profited by marketing free or low-cost games to children and by permitting them to easily rack up charges for worthless in-game currency, by failing to incorporate reasonable controls such as simply requiring the entry of a password," said Shanon J. Carson of Berger & Montague, P.C., one of the attorneys representing Plaintiff.  "Google is certainly aware that its primary competitor, Apple, has taken steps to end this unfair practice, and Google should do the same."

"This practice is widespread, has been condemned by the Federal Trade Commission and is being investigated by the European Union's consumer protection officials," said Edwin J. Kilpela, Jr. of Del Sole Cavanaugh Stroyd, LLC, who also represents the plaintiff.  "A company of Google's size and sophistication either is or should be aware that it is permitting unauthorized charges by minor children.  We look forward to vindicating the rights of consumers victimized by Google's policies in this regard."

Parents and guardians of children who purchased in-game currency from the Google Play App Store without permission may obtain additional information about the class action lawsuit by calling Patrick F. Madden at (215) 875-3035, or by email at [email protected].

This case is being prosecuted by the class action law firms, Berger & Montague, P.C., Del Sole Cavanaugh Stroyd LLC, Carpenter Law Group, and the Patterson Law Group, APC.  Berger & Montague, P.C. (www.bergermontague.com) consists of over 50 attorneys who represent plaintiffs in complex and class action litigation.  The firm has played lead roles in major cases for over 40 years resulting in recoveries of billions of dollars for its clients and the classes they represent.

SOURCE Berger & Montague, P.C.

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