Google Antitrust Class Action

This class action alleges that Google restrains competition and uses unlawful means to maintain its monopolies in general and handheld search, thereby violating antitrust laws.

The class for this action is all U.S. purchasers of any Android OS mobile phone or tablet for which Google has contracted with the manufacturer to pre-load Google applications on condition that the manufacturer install Google as the default search engine for the device.

The complaint for this class action makes a number of allegations, including that Google is a monopolist, in general as well as handheld search. As of March 2014, Google’s share of the general search market was said to stand at 81.87%, and its share of the handheld search market was said to be 86.82%.

The complaint further alleges that Google engages in unlawful behavior to restrain trade and increase its monopoly in handheld search. According to the complaint, Google uses Mobile Application Distribution Agreements (MADA) to force manufacturers to agree to unnecessary and unfair terms. A manufacturer who wishes to install popular Google apps must obtain a license from Google. As a condition, the complaint says, Google requires that the manufacturer make Google the default search engine for the device. (While other search engines can be used, this involves extra effort from the consumer.) The complaint alleges that Google also requires that the manufacturer pre-load all of a suite of Google apps onto prime screen real estate, and that Google location services be made the default location services provider for the device. Thus, the complaint says, manufacturers do not have the freedom to offer as defaults other systems that they may find to be better or cheaper.

Google has previously been the subject of antitrust investigations, in both the US and Europe. Although settlements have been reached to avoid litigation, the complaint says that one recent settlement has not yet been approved by the EU and is under fire as not going far enough to check Google’s anti-competitive practices.

The complaint also charges that Google’s practices with its Android apps and search product restrain and injure competition in markets where barriers to entry are already high. It says that manufacturers are able only to offer inferior placement for competitors’ apps and cannot offer payment for superior placement, thereby reducing costs to consumers. In addition, search engines improve over time as more and more searches are run through them, and Google clearly has an advantage in this area.

The complaint also says that Google conceals its MADA restrictions, so that consumers do not know that their options are being restricted. Google labels these agreements as “highly confidential attorneys eyes only”, forbidding manufacturers from making them public.

In addition, the complaint says, Google maintains its monopolies by entering into exclusive agreements with Apple. The complaint claims that Apple is the largest non-Android phone manufacturer and might therefore offer an option for competition. According to the complaint, however, Google has forestalled this by paying Apple hundreds of millions of dollars over the years for the ability to act as the default search engine for iPhones, iPads, and iPods.

Finally, the complaint says that Google’s practices harm consumers, preventing choice and stifling innovation, and keeping prices higher than they would otherwise be.

 

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Antitrust

Most Recent Case Event

Google Antitrust Class Action Complaint

October 30, 2015

The complaint for this class action alleges that Google restrains competition and uses unlawful means to maintain its monopolies in general and handheld search, thereby violating antitrust laws.

google_antitrust_complaint.pdf

Case Event History

Google Antitrust Class Action Complaint

October 30, 2015

The complaint for this class action alleges that Google restrains competition and uses unlawful means to maintain its monopolies in general and handheld search, thereby violating antitrust laws.

google_antitrust_complaint.pdf
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