Although much attention has been given to last week’s report that federal and state governments conducting antitrust investigations of Google in the US may file lawsuits as soon as this summer,1https://www.wsj.com/articles/justice-department-state-attorneys-general-likely-to-bring-antitrust-lawsuits-against-google-11589573622 those keeping score at home would be wise to manage their expectations for a groundbreaking case.
Exactly what kind of case the government is thinking about bringing is not clear, but it appears on track to involve claims that Google has abused a dominant market position in search and advertising. Yet if recent history teaches us anything about such monopolization cases, it is that they are difficult to bring and to expect, at most, incremental–not sweeping–changes in the course of the antitrust laws. That is because any case the government brings will be confined by a strong case law precedent that has in recent decades significantly curtailed the reach of monopolization laws in the US.
Those looking for big change anytime soon would be wise to instead put their energy elsewhere, such as new tech-specific industry regulations. Looking to competition laws—at least as they are currently crafted—for a big fix is only likely to disappoint and frustrate.Continue reading “Don’t believe the hype: managing expectations for the antitrust investigation of Google”