NEWSFLASH: Court Defends Innovation In DOJ Antitrust Suit, A Victory For American Consumers And Businesses
US District Judge Amit Mehta has dismissed state Attorneys’ General claims that Google’s search results harmed competition. The ruling is an unequivocal win for consumers and American businesses who benefit from innovative search results that make information available quickly and easily.
States spent three years and countless taxpayer dollars pursuing claims that had been dismissed by the FTC 10 years ago. The suit was driven not by consumers, but Google’s commercial rivals. The court’s ruling underscores that antitrust protects innovation that benefits consumers with better products and more choice—spurring competition.
Here’s what you need to know about Friday’s decision and its impact on American consumers and businesses.
US District Judge Amit Mehta concluded that the States lack evidence to support their anticompetitive harm claims against Google. “Plaintiffs’ theory of anticompetitive harm rests on a multi-linked causal sequence that relies not on evidence but almost entirely on the opinion and speculation of its expert … Simply put, there is no record evidence of anticompetitive harm in the relevant markets resulting from Google’s treatment of SVPs.”
CCIA President Matt Schruers notes that it is “encouraging to see recognition of the fact that US law does not protect competing companies from the competition.” “The government plaintiffs simply didn’t bring the goods … A common theme in today’s ruling, yesterday’s motion in limine by DOJ … and the recently proposed Merger Guidelines is US enforcers’ recent unwillingness or inability to engage with pro-competitive aspects of a business decision.”
Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich hopes that the Court’s decision will motivate further innovation within the industry. “Specialized sites have tried every avenue – FTC, federal legislation, now this CO AG suit – to force  anti-consumer changes to G’s search result design. Let’s hope this loss convinces them to put their efforts into innovating instead … Today, G universal results look much better than when they first launched 16 years ago – to consumers’ benefit.”
Laura Phillips-Sawyer, an associate professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, tells the Wall Street Journal that the Court’s decision isn’t surprising given the lack of charges in past investigations into comparable allegations against Google.
Beth Egan, an associate professor of advertising at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, praises the decision’s protection of small businesses. “What Attorneys General and the policymakers that want to rewrite U.S. law drastically fail to understand is that the current online ecosystem works well for small businesses … Whether buying affordable keyword ads through Google or relying on free tools and SEO to promote your business, it has never been easier or more affordable for small businesses to find customers and compete with much larger brands. If regulators or policymakers change how that ecosystem works, it will certainly impact small businesses, who cannot afford to be the collateral damage in Washington’s war on leading technology companies.”
To learn more about the importance of innovation and competition in tech, click here.