Google Suit Fails To Expose Monopolistic Practices
By Thomas Lenard
(This piece was published in Investor’s Business Daily on March 29, 2012)
Antitrust officials in the U.S. and Europe act as if they’ve found their next Microsoft and seem ready to party like it’s 1999. At a Senate hearing last year, former antitrust division chief Thomas Barnett, representing Google’s competitors, accused Google of “using its extraordinary power to manipulate users and foreclose the ability of other sites to compete.” Yelp cofounder Jeremy Stoppelman wondered “whether new ideas can compete fairly” against Google. (Apparently they can; several weeks ago, Yelp had a very successful IPO). Both the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee support the current Federal Trade Commission investigation.
And, why shouldn’t the authorities investigate? A lot of careers were made on the Microsoft case. But as tempting as a major Google case may be, the comparison to Microsoft falls apart on the facts and the law.
The principal allegation is that Google is competing unfairly against specialty sites like Yelp, Nextag, Amazon and Kayak, in order to maintain its own position-i.e., that Google is engaged in the same kind of practices Microsoft was convicted of a decade ago. So, is Google another Microsoft?
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