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Tinder owner Match sues Google in 'last resort' to avoid app-store booting

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By Paresh Dave

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) -Dating apps maker Match Group Inc sued Alphabet Inc's Google on Monday, calling the action a "last resort" to prevent Tinder and its other apps from being booted off the Play store for refusing to share up to 30% of their sales.

Match's lawsuit follows ongoing cases brought by "Fortnite" maker Epic Games, dozens of U.S. state attorneys general and others in targeting Google's allegedly anticompetitive conduct with the Play store.

Google said Match was attempting to dodge paying for the significant value it receives.

"Like any business, we charge for our services, and like any responsible platform, we protect users against fraud," Google said. It has said its payment tool helps deter scams.

Match's lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in California, accuses Google of violating federal and state antitrust laws and seeks to bar such behavior.

It is notable because some of Match's apps have been exempted from Google policies for about the past decade. Now, Google says it will block downloads of those apps by June 1 unless they solely offer its payment system and share revenue, the lawsuit states.

"This lawsuit is a measure of last resort," Match Chief Executive Shar Dubey said. "We tried, in good faith, to resolve these concerns with Google, but their insistence and threats has left us no choice."

At stake for Match is what it describes as hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that would have to be paid to Google.

The majority of users on Match's most popular app, Tinder, prefer its payment system, which allows for installment plans, bank transfers and other features not provided by Google, according to the lawsuit.

Google said that developers can bypass the Play store and that it has lowered fees and created other programs to address concerns.

Dubey said that going around Play was unviable.

"It's like saying, 'you don't have to take the elevator to get to the 60th floor of a building, you can always scale the outside wall,'" she said.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Richard Pullin)

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