By Walker Upchurch

 

On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, shockwaves were felt throughout the tech law community as the tech hegemon Google had an antitrust suit brought against it by the Justice Department.[1] The states of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas also joined the suit.[2] The suit alleges that Google had abused its dominance in online search and advertising.[3]

 

The suit further alleges that Google violates section 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2. The Act states: “Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding ten years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.”[4]The Department of Justice alleges that Google violates this statute as it has unlawfully maintained monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices.[5]

 

The case has been filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., and it alleged that google uses money that has been collected from advertisers to payphone manufacturers, such as Apple, for a monopoly. Examples of this look to the average person in practice is how the Iphone’s search from the Safari Application is a google search; the android employs a Google search, and so does the Galaxy s10.[6] Likewise, all Apple products, such as the Macbook, use Google as the primary search engine on their default Safari Browser.[7]

 

Likewise, Google’s revenue-sharing agreements with Apple and its other partners will likely be a significant issue as it significantly limits competition.[8] Additionally, the case will hinge on the ideology that General Search Services is a Relevant Antitrust Market.[9] The Department of Justice argues that Google has monopoly power within the general search service market. Additionally, through these exclusionary agreements, the suit alleges that Google has harmed the competition by substantially foreclosing competition in general search services by impeading other potential distribution paths for general search service rivals.[10]

 

It will be quite interesting to see how the antitrust suit will affect Silicon Valley. Companies like Oracle, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook will be watching with bated breath and there are certainly no shortage of new players within the tech space praying for the downfall of these giants. This will most likely be the most important lawsuit as it relates to how we the American people consume our technology that has taken place thus far. While it seems like this suit will be on a crash course with the Supreme court, it will be an extremely important one to watch. Will the behemoth still stand, or will it be picked apart the same way that Standard Oil was? Time will tell, and the American consumer will feel the repercussions.

 

[1] See Michael Balsamo & Marcy Gordon, Justice Dept. files landmark antitrust case against Google, (Oct. 23, 2020, 10:03 A.M.), https://apnews.com/article/google-justice-department-antitrust-0510e8f9047956254455ec5d4db06044.

[2] See Id.

[3] See Id.

[4] Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, 15 U.S.C. § 2.

[5] See Complaint at 2, Department of Justice Et. Al. v. Google LLC, No. 03010 (D. D. C. filed Oct. 20, 2020).

[6] See Id at 16.

[7] See Id.

[8] See Id. at 25.

[9] See Id. at 28.

[10]See id. at 55.

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