Antitrust lawsuits pile up on Google

Marketplace Staff Mar 3, 2010

Antitrust lawsuits pile up on Google

Marketplace Staff Mar 3, 2010


Kai Ryssdal: Google, as you probably know, controls almost two thirds of the Internet search market. That doesn’t sit too well with some of Google’s competitors, including one that knows a little something about market domination.

In a speech yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he’s complained to antitrust regulators about Google. His company has filed antitrust suits against them over in Europe. And recently, a number of smaller companies have filed lawsuits against Google here at home. Companies whose lawyer, it just so happens, used to represent Microsoft. Brett Neely has more.

BRETT NEELY: John Lopatka is an anti-trust expert at Penn State. His reaction to these cases…

JOHN LOPATKA: It’s all in some ways a little amusing.

That’s because a decade ago the government sued Microsoft for abusing its market power. Now Microsoft says the same about its rival Google.

Lawsuits like these are the price of success, says Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich.

ADAM KOVACEVICH: It’s become clear to us that over the last several months our competitors are looking at court dockets for complaints against Google in which they can inject themselves and learn more about our business.

But an antitrust case probably won’t unearth much competitive information, says Neil Ray at the law firm Shepard Mullin.

NEIL RAY: The antitrust suit avenue is not an easy way to attempt to gain access to competitive information.

Lawsuits take a long time and can be unpredictable.

But Ray says the Obama administration is more sympathetic to antitrust complaints.

John Lopatka says Microsoft can now turn to the government, and it will listen.

LOPATKA: Microsoft has said, and I think correctly so, that complaints about anti-competitive behavior that are made to antitrust authorities, often come from competitors.

And remember this: Though the U.S. antitrust case against Microsoft was eventually dismissed, there was a price. Many of the company’s products have lost market share since then.

The question is, will these current lawsuits cost Google its momentum?

In Washington, I’m Brett Neely for Marketplace.

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