美国对谷歌发起最大规模反垄断诉讼,司法部将拆分谷歌列入选项
2020-10-21 17:37:30
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来源:反垄断实务评论 

【导读:2020年10月20日,美国司法部发布官方公告,称其已联合11个州的检察官,向美国哥伦比亚特区地方法院正式对谷歌提起反垄断诉讼,以阻止谷歌通过在搜索和搜索广告市场中实施反竞争和排他行为非法维持垄断,并补救竞争损害。

作为市值超过1万亿美元的全球最富有的公司之一,谷歌垄断了全球数十亿用户和广告商的互联网入口。谷歌在美国网络搜索市场的份额几乎达到了90%。

起诉书称,谷歌让用户签订了一系列排他协议,通过要求将谷歌设置为全球数十亿台移动设备和电脑的预设通用搜索引擎,锁定用户访问搜索引擎,即互联网的主要渠道。并在许多情况下,禁止预装竞争对手的产品。具体来说,起诉书指控谷歌通过以下方式非法维持搜索和搜索广告的垄断地位:

1、签订排他性协议,禁止预装任何竞争性搜索服务。

2、无视消费者的偏好,签订捆绑协议和其他协议,强制将其搜索应用程序预装在移动设备的主要位置,并使其无法删除。

3、与苹果达成长期协议,使谷歌成为苹果系统浏览器Safari和其他苹果搜索工具上的默认搜索引擎(事实上是唯一的)。

4、利用垄断利润使其搜索引擎在移动设备、网络浏览器和其他搜索入口获取优先权利,形成一个持续的、自我强化的垄断循环。

司法部认为谷歌前述行为与其他反竞争行为共同损害了竞争和消费者,降低了创新型新公司发展、竞争和约束谷歌行为的能力。

这是自1998年的联邦政府及19个州共同起诉微软之后,美国最大规模的反垄断诉讼,此次瞄准的是下一创新发展浪潮的数字市场。此前,美国司法部已经对谷歌展开了14个月的反垄断调查,分别调查谷歌在搜索领域和广告领域的行为。美国司法部副部长在宣布起诉的新闻发布会上表示,没有排除未来分拆谷歌的可能性。(本文源自美国司法部官网以及综合媒体报道。)】

Justice Department Sues Monopolist Google For Violating Antitrust Laws

Department Files Complaint Against Google to Restore Competition in Search and Search Advertising Markets

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Today, the Department of Justice — along with eleven state Attorneys General — filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms. The participating state Attorneys General offices represent Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana,Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.

“Today, millions of Americans rely on the Internet and online platforms for their dailylives. Competition in this industry is vitally important, which is why today’s challenge against Google — the gatekeeper of the Internet — for violating antitrust laws is a monumental case both for the Department of Justice and for the American people,” said Attorney General William Barr. “Since my confirmation, I have prioritized the Department’s review of online market-leading platforms to ensure that our technology industries remain competitive. This lawsuit strikes at the heart of Google’s grip over the internet for millions of American consumers, advertisers, small businesses and entrepreneurs be holden to an unlawful monopolist.”

“As with its historic antitrust actions against AT&T in 1974 and Microsoft in1998, the Department is again enforcing the Sherman Act to restore the role of competition and open the door to the next wave of innovation—this time in vital digital markets,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen.

As one of the wealthiest companies on the planet with a market value of $1 trillion, Google is the monopoly gatekeeper to the internet for billions of users and countless advertisers worldwide. For years, Google has accounted for almost 90 percent of all search queries in the United States and has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in search andsearch advertising.

As alleged in the Complaint, Google has entered into a series of exclusionary agreements that collectively lock up the primary avenues through which users access search engines, and thus the internet, by requiring that Google be set as the preset default general search engine on billions of mobile devices and computers worldwide and, in many cases, prohibiting preinstallation of a competitor. In particular, the Complaint alleges that Google has unlawfully maintained monopolies in search and search advertising by:

Entering into exclusivity agreements that forbid preinstallation of any competing search service.

Entering into tying and other arrangements that force preinstallation of its search applications in prime locations on mobile devices and make them undeletable, regardless of consumer preference.

Entering into long-term agreements with Apple that require Google to be the default – and de facto exclusive – general search engine on Apple’s popular Safari browser and other Apple search tools.

Generally using monopoly profits to buy preferential treatment for its search engine on devices, web browsers, and other search access points, creating a continuous and self-reinforcing cycle of monopolization.

These and other anticompetitive practices harm competition and consumers, reducing the ability of innovative new companies to develop, compete, and discipline Google’s behavior.

The antitrust laws protect our free market economy and forbid monopolists from engaging in anticompetitive practices. They also empower the Department of Justice to bring cases like this one to remedy violations and restore competition, as it has done for over a century in notable cases involving monopolists over other critical industries undergirding the American economy like Standard Oil and the AT&T telephone monopoly. Decades ago the Department’s case against Microsoft recognized that the antitrust laws forbid anticompetitive agreements by high-technology monopolists to require preinstalled default status, to shut off distribution channels to rivals, and to make software undeletable. The Complaint alleges that Google is using similar agreements itself to maintain and extend its own dominance.

The Complaint alleges that Google’s anticompetitive practices have had harmfuleffects on competition and consumers. Google has foreclosed any meaningful search competitor from gaining vital distribution and scale, eliminating competition for a majority of search queries in the United States. By restricting competition in search, Google’s conduct has harmed consumers by reducing the quality of search (including on dimensions such as privacy, data protection, and use of consumer data), lessening choice in search, and impeding innovation. By suppressing competition in advertising, Google has the power to charge advertisers more than it could in a competitive market and to reduce the quality of the services it provides them. Through filing the lawsuit, the Department seeks to stop Google’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition for American consumers, advertisers, and all companies now reliant on the internet economy.

Googleis a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware, and is headquartered in Mountain View, California. Google isowned by Alphabet Inc., a publicly traded company incorporated and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware and headquartered in Mountain View,California.

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