Last night, in my post about how Google may have blown it by integrating Google+ into search results, I stated that Google has never been deemed to have monopoly power by a government body or judge, and therefore it’s free to do what it wants with search results.But FairSearch.org — a lobbying group that is partly funded by Microsoft and other Google search competitors — pointed out three examples where in fact a judge or government agency has said that Google has that kind of power.
- District judge Denny Chin rejected a proposed settlement over Google Books in March 2011. He wrote: “The ASA [settlement] would effectively grant Google a monopoly over digital books…and such a monopoly would further entrench Google’s dominant position in the online search business.” (PDF of this ruling is here.)
- The Department of Justice commented on the same settlement in 2010: “Google already holds a relatively dominant market share in that market [the online search market]”
- The FTC wrote this when considering the Google-DoubleClick acquisition: “Google, through its AdWords business, is the dominant provider of sponsored search advertising, and most of its online advertising revenue is generated by the sale of advertising space on its search engine results pages.” (PDF here.)
These statements are not in the same legal class as the Findings of Fact in Microsoft’s antitrust case, where a judge ruled that Microsoft had dominant market power in the market for PC desktop operating systems, and built the rest of his case around that finding.
They’re more like the kinds of statements that could be used as evidence to build a bigger case.
Still, there is at least some precedent for a ruling that Google is a monopoly. Noted.
3) In December 2007, Statement of Federal Trade Commission Concerning Google/DoubleClick
“Google, through its AdWords business, is the dominant provider of sponsored search
advertising, and most of its online advertising revenue is generated by the sale of advertising
space on its search engine results pages.”
Source: Statement of Federal Trade Commission Concerning Google/DoubleClick, Dec 7, 2011