Analysis: Google antitrust case to turn on how search engine grew dominant – experts

In this news, we discuss the Analysis: Google antitrust case to turn on how search engine grew dominant – experts.

OAKLAND, Calif. / NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government’s antitrust case against Alphabet Inc. Google’s GOOGL.O looks strong, but could face an uphill battle from a pro-pro-legal system. fact, the situation made them worse, said several legal experts.

Google was accused in the long-awaited lawsuit filed on Tuesday of harming competition in internet search and search advertising through distribution deals and other restrictions that put its search engine at the forefront every time consumers browse the web.

To win, the US Department of Justice must prove that Google has acquired or maintained monopoly power through abusive behavior, or something beyond competition on substance.

Several legal experts have said that Google’s alleged misconduct appears similar to allegations the government made in the 1990s against Microsoft Corp MSFT.O. This landmark case was settled in 2002, and a consent decree forced the manufacturer of the Windows operating system to stop taking revenge on computer makers who used non-Microsoft software.

Rebecca Haw Allensworth, a professor at Vanderbilt Law School, said the Justice Department seemed wise to make credible and narrow arguments in its 59-page complaint.

“They are not jumping on the bandwagon of restructuring antitrust law for technology,” she said. “They stick to the existing law.”

Eleven U.S. states have joined the government’s lawsuit, and New York Attorney General Letitia James has said her state and six others may soon file their own lawsuits.

Experts have said the federal government is unlikely to back down and could in fact apply more pressure if Democrat Joe Biden wins the presidency over Republican President Donald Trump in the November 3 election.

Google is expected to argue that the government overestimated the power of the company by defining its market too narrowly.

But some experts have said that Google’s ubiquity makes the case more likely to depend on whether its dominance stems from consumers preferring it over rivals, or whether the Mountain View, Calif., Based company has them. far from these rivals.

“We know that Google has a significant share of this market,” said John Lopatka, professor of law at Pennsylvania State University. “The question is why.”

Shubha Ghosh, professor of law at Syracuse University, said the government alleges that Google is preventing more user-friendly search engines, such as those that do not collect user data to personalize ads, from gaining popularity. But he said Google can just say that its search engine is effective in generating the results consumers want and that it is “not meant to be exclusive.”

Or, as Lopatka put it, “It could say, we were a decadent admired company and we did a really good job, and that’s why we became as dominant as we are.”

Soaring prices often show that customers have been harmed by anti-competitive behavior.

But Google provides its search services for free, adding to the challenges for the Justice Department.

“The tendency of judicial doctrine in Supreme Court decisions involving dominant firms has been to give large firms a great deal of freedom to choose the business strategies they prefer,” said William Kovacic, professor of law at the George Washington University and former Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. “If you are a complainant, including a government complainant, it’s hard to overcome – not impossible, just very difficult,” he added.

Experts said that even if the Justice Department proves that Google is a monopoly and abuses its monopoly power, a court may find it difficult to craft measures to improve search competition.

“Building a search engine is not easy,” said Chris Sagers, professor of law at Cleveland State University. “It seems extremely unlikely that any other company will significantly challenge Google.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Paresh Dave; Edited by Greg Mitchell and Leslie Adler

Original © Thomson Reuters Corporation

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