An antitrust class action lawsuit has been filed against Google, accusing the company of monopolising the internet and mobile search market in the US through its agreements with mobile manufacturers.
The case, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California by two smartphone users, claims that Google is forcing manufacturers to give prominence to its suite of applications on their Android devices.
The "secret" Mobile Application Distribution Agreements (MADA) signed by Google with manufacturers such as Samsung requires the latter to place Google apps such as Search, Google Play, and YouTube prominently on the devices.
Plaintiffs Gary Feitelson, of Kentucky, and Daniel McKee, of Iowa, said in the suit that the agreements are monopolising the market by restricting the manufacturers from using cheaper applications, resulting in artificially high prices.
The two claimants, who own an HTC EVO 3D and a Samsung Galaxy S III respectively, said that their mobile phones would have cost less if there were enough competition.
They also claim that if device manufacturers were free to choose a default search engine other than Google, the overall quality of Internet search would improve.
Consumer rights class-action law firm Hagens Berman is taking up the case for the plaintiffs.
Hagens Berman attorney Steve Berman said: "It's clear that Google has not achieved this monopoly through offering a better search engine, but through its strategic, anti-competitive placement, and it doesn't take a forensic economist to see that this is evidence of market manipulation.
"Simply put, there is no lawful, pro-competitive reason for Google to condition licences to pre-load popular Google apps like this."
The lawsuit seeks damages for individuals using Android phones.
Photo courtesy of Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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