Technology and Business Law Blog

Google Watch Where You Are Heading

Microsoft faced antitrust violation allegations in the United States which was settled in 2002 but Microsoft had been paying millions of dollars to several companies like Sun Microsystems and RealNetworks to settle antitrust disputes, but in the European Union the court of First Instance held that Microsoft had abused its dominant position in the operating system market by bundling it’s products together. The European courts take a stricter view on antitrust, monopolistic practices and privacy issues. The court held that the Commission was right in requiring Microsoft to share technical specifications with it’s rivals and it also required the company to offer unbundled options to consumers if if tied two products together. Further the court also upheld the $613 million fine imposed by the Commission.

Basically the court wants to promote competition, innovation and provide choice to other innovators and consumers. The competition commissioner Neelie Kroes stated ” The court has upheld a landmark commission decision to give consumers more choice in software markets. That decision sets an important precedent in terms of the obligations of dominant companies to allow competition in particular in high tech industries.”

In Washington, Assistant Attorney General Thomas O. Barnett said the European ruling “may have the unfortunate consequence of harming consumers by chilling innovation and discouraging competition.”
“In the United States, the antitrust laws are enforced to protect consumers by protecting competition, not competitors.”

When Microsoft was targeted for antitrust suits in the 2000’s it was the elephant amongst the technology companies but now Google seems to have taken Microsoft’s place with it’s tentacles in every pie and is expanding further than Microsoft ever could contemplate and now Microsoft having taken the back seat. It will be interesting to see after this decision in Europe the effect it will have on the Google-DoubleClick merger and the antitrust allegations filed with the Federal Trade Commission. The merger allows Google to become the most dominant player in the search engine space. DoubleClick is a company that primarily develops and provides Internet as serving services and it advertises itself as the nerve center of digital marketing.

Google could be easily be classified as the most monopolist company in this era and it is already a target in EU for the privacy issues presented by it’s street view and other technology that peeps into an individual’s personal life, data and tracks each of their moves in the internet. See my earlier blog

While Google collects the search engine histories of it’s users, DoubleClick tracks what websites people visit and with both companies merging they could have access to too much information on each consumer internet activities and the impact on consumer privacy. Google has a market capitalization of $162 billion and the Federal Trade Commission and the European Union are still reviewing the merger on the initiative taken by watch groups like the Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Privacy Information Center which filed a complaint with FTC on April 20, 2007 about the merger and on September 17, 2007 filed a supplement stating that it is providing additional evidence about Google-DoubleClick business practices that fail to comply with accepted privacy safegaurds.


September 18, 2007 Posted by | Antitrust, DoubleClick, EU, FTC, Google, Microsoft, Monopoly, privacy | 1 Comment