This week, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, along with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and 10 other state attorneys general, filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Google is one of the largest and most powerful companies in the world. Regardless of its size, all companies have an obligation to compete fairly in the marketplace. Our investigation into Google revealed that the global tech behemoth allegedly used its size and scale to build a moat around its core markets—general search services and search advertising. We believe Google’s conduct violates state and federal antitrust laws and that a successful outcome, in this case, will bring many benefits to all Americans including Florida consumers, the overwhelming majority of whom use Google products every day.”
With a reported market value of $1 trillion, Google allegedly accounts for 90% of all search inquiries in the US and uses anti-competitive tactics to maintain its monopoly of search engines and search advertising.
The case against Google includes assertions that the company “entered into a series of exclusionary agreements to lock up the primary avenues through which users access search engines” by requiring that Google be set as the default search engine. Google has allegedly entered into exclusivity agreements that forbid preinstallation of any competing search service on a device, as well as making Google’s search undeletable.
The DOJ and Attorneys General claim that Google has used profits gained by monopolistic practices to buy preferential treatment for its search engine on devices, web browsers, and other search access points, “creating a continuous and self-reinforcing cycle of monopolization.”
Antitrust laws are designed to protect smaller businesses and encourage competition by forbidding anti-competitive practices. These practices typically involve a large company creating an environment in which others cannot compete in the market and ultimately not survive.
Beginning in 1997, the DOJ brought a similar lawsuit against Microsoft, where it was decided that the antitrust laws forbid anti-competitive agreements by technology companies to require pre-installed default status, to shut off distribution channels to rivals, and to make software undeletable.