Antitrust News: Justice Department vs. Google

by: The Knowledge Group

July 16, 2020


Google, the default search engine on many computer operating systems, has practically cornered the  market on advertising technology. Litigation is looming, assuming Attorney General William Barr directs the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division to sue. It’s an issue to watch. Google could end up facing serious limits from the DOJ as well as from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Europe’s anti-monopoly officials have launched three cases against Google and fined the company billions. But an action by the U.S. DOJ would be a significant and rare milestone. Most millennials have no memory of the department’s last move of this magnitude when it took on Microsoft for squeezing out Netscape’s browser back in the 90s.

The outcome of the new action will be relevant and interesting to executives, antitrust lawyers and corporate counsel, compliance and risk experts, and federal agencies. For its part, the FTC recently formed a task force to hold tech companies accountable for breaching antitrust provisions.

At the same time, the DOJ and FTC have developed guidance on collaboration and information sharing among competing tech companies. The guidance acknowledges a need to allow for several kinds of collaborations meant to support health and safety in the throes of a pandemic. The agencies have further voiced their intent to confront companies that take advantage of the virus to violate antitrust law. The DOJ will prosecute bid rigging, price gouging, and other egregious conduct.

Tech and Pharma Markets Both in the Antitrust Spotlight

Along with Big Tech, Big Pharma, too, is bracing for the government to crack down on monopolistic business trends. Companies must look out for changing compliance hurdles; lawyers must stay attuned to emerging developments. Now is the time to examine existing policies and practices to steer clear of legal liabilities.