Google says that its agreement with Android device makers on installing Google as default search engine do not violate antitrust rules

By Nicole Daniel

In a proposed class action against Google where it is alleged that Google’s agreements with Android device makers to install Google as the default search engine, Google asked US District Judge Beth Labson Freemen to dismiss the class action thereby stating that these agreements do not violate antitrust rules.

In its motion to dismiss the lawsuit which was filed on 7 November 2014 Google stated that the Mobile Application Distribution Agreements (MADA) it had signed with Android device makers such as Samsung and HTC neither violate the Sherman or Clayton Act nor state laws such as the Cartwright Act in California.

Google distinguished the case from the famous Microsoft case. The MADAs are not exclusive agreements; they are quite the opposite as they require manufacturers to make their products an “open environment” for the software of other companies. The Android devices can also be easily customized to change the default search engine to e.g. Microsoft’s Bing search engine. In contrast in the Microsoft case the PC makers were obliged to make Internet Explorer the machine’s only browser in exchange for using Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Furthermore, Google states that the MADAs do not oblige the manufacturers to apply the agreement to every single device they make.

They previously secret MADAs between Google and its Android partners were revealed in 2012 during a copyright trial between Google and Oracle. Also in the second US patent litigation between Apple and Samsung previously secret MADAs were brought up as evidence.

What followed was a lawsuit by a consumer right’s plaintiffs’ firm alleging that Google illegally leveraged its monopoly in order to dominate the mobile market by forcing manufacturers to enter into MADAs. The plaintiffs have to prove that the already installed default apps on their smartphone and tablets are not easily replaceable. They further have to prove that the consumers paid more for the affected smartphones and tablets than they would have but for Google’s allegedly anticompetitive conduct. In its motion to dismiss the case Google said that the plaintiffs failed to prove the above.

It remains to be seen how the Judge will decide on Google’s motion to dismiss the class action.