Google wins antitrust lawsuit over map monopoly claims

Alphabet Inc. won an early victory in antitrust litigation over allegations that it exploited the dominance of its Maps software to lock app developers into the Google ecosystem and defraud them of other necessary services.

Judge Jeffrey S. White tentatively dismissed the proposed class action lawsuit, giving the companies leading the lawsuit permission to refile it. So far, the suit’s legal theories are tainted with a myriad of fatal flaws, particularly the failure to establish that Maps’ terms of service amount to “coercion,” the judge found.

White, writing for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, said the allegations also did not show that Alphabet in fact had a policy of tying the use of Maps services to the purchase of products also made. by Google rivals.

“Plaintiffs do not allege which Google products they were forced to purchase or which products they were unable to purchase due to Google’s Terms of Service,” the judge wrote on Nov. 1.

They also failed to correctly define the market allegedly distorted by Alphabet’s actions, he found. Rather than analyze product interchangeability in economic terms, the suit took Google’s marketing labels “and argued, conclusively, that those categories are the relevant product markets,” White wrote.

He gave the companies 30 days to amend their action, part of a flurry of antitrust challenges facing Google, including a landmark Justice Department case, enforcement actions by state attorneys general, scrutiny from lawmakers and class action lawsuits on behalf of consumers, developers and advertisers.

Ongoing court cases target Google’s dominance in a range of online markets, including search, advertising and app distribution through its Play Store. The company was recently accused of using its Android operating system to suppress “voice assistant” technology.

Legislative efforts include a bipartisan-backed US Senate bill to ban dominant digital platforms like Google from “self-preferring” or favoring their own services in online search results. Despite the disappearance of hopes of adoption, this bill could be voted on at the end of the year.

Alphabet is represented by Jones Day. The companies are represented by Nematzadeh PLLC, Balestriere Fariello and ESQGo PC.

The case is Dream Big Media Inc. v. Alphabet Inc., ND Cal., no. 22-cv-2314, 11/1/22.

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