US antitrust case against search giant Google resembles Microsoft battle decades ago
Two weeks ago, White House lawmakers completed a 16-month investigation into Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook and called for sweeping changes to curb their market power. Lawmakers' decision: Traditional antitrust laws are not in challenge and need the biggest review in more than 40 years.
But the Justice Department, after its 16-month investigation, filed a major lawsuit against Google on Tuesday relying on the same antitrust laws.
Google, in a statement, called the Justice Department action "a profoundly flawed lawsuit that will do nothing to help consumers."
The specifics of the Justice Department's action, legal experts said, echo the latest major antitrust case against a major technology company like Microsoft. The lawsuit, filed in 1998, alleges that Microsoft was using its power as the owner of a dominant PC operating system, Windows, to block potential threats.
The Justice Department accused Microsoft of using restrictive contracts with PC makers and others to block the distribution of Netscape Communications software, the commercial pioneer in the browser market.
And it worked. After a lengthy trial, Microsoft was found to have repeatedly violated the country’s antitrust laws.
The Microsoft case also helps the government make an argument for consumer harm in the Google case. In antitrust, consumer welfare is often associated with a monopoly demonstrating its power by raising product prices to maximize profit.
Google search service is free for consumers, which means that the government can not show rising prices. But prices did not really figure in the Microsoft case. The software giant packed its free web browser into its dominant Windows opera.