Enlarge /. Will the sun ever set in the Google empire?
The Justice Department today filed a landmark antitrust lawsuit against Google alleging the company was anticompetitive and unfairly ousted rivals in its search businesses.
A company doesn't have to be a literal monopoly with no competition to violate antitrust law. Instead, the law is primarily concerned with what a company does to achieve a dominant position and what it does with that dominant position when it is at the top. And according to the DOJ's complaint (PDF), Google has actually abused its oversized market power to improve the playing field in its favor and to keep potential competitors away.
"Google is the gateway to the internet," Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told reporters on a call. "It kept its power through anti-competitive exclusionary practices."
Google holds more than 80 percent of the market share in search across the board, with the share in the mobile search market being even higher, according to the DOJ lawsuit. The company's dominance in search and the way it leverages its advertising business, search business, Chrome browser, and Android operating system give the company's gatekeeper status that it then wrongly uses to keep competitors out According to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also questions the way Google Search is pre-installed on Android phones by all device manufacturers and distributors through an allegedly illegal tangle of exclusive, interlocking contractual agreements. The European Union fined Google more than $ 5 billion in 2018 on similar charges.
According to the DOJ, Google has "severely" damaged competition by raising the barriers to entry for competitors who want to offer or expand their own search services. The measures have also worsened Google's services: No competition does not mean "considerable competitive pressure to improve" one's own search or advertising products.