California residents may be familiar with Google's dominance among Internet search engines, but they may not be aware of an antitrust suit that was recently brought against the company. The plaintiffs in the case alleged unfair competition as Google reportedly required electronics companies to favor its own apps in the development of Android smartphones. The case accuses Google of driving up handset prices because of this unfair advantage.
A U.S. District judge in California noted on Feb. 20 that the consumers involved in the case did not show Google's culpability for high pricing. According to the judge, the number of levels between consumers and the manufacturers was not evident. She also noted that the defendant's alleged unfair competition is not accomplished by threatened loss of innovation or by competitive pricing. Those who filed the case have been given three weeks to adjust their claims under both state and national antitrust and unfair competition laws.
An individual or group of individuals concerned about unfair competition may bring a private action against a company. As suggested in this case, the Sherman Act may prohibit interference with competitive pricing or distribution in an unfair manner. Those who might decide to file a suit under this act could be consumers who have dealt with negative implications because of a company's manipulation of a product or industry. An affected company might also consider suing for damages that result because of a competitor's unfair practices.
In filing legal action, a plaintiff may want to work with an antitrust lawyer to ensure that a sound argument is constructed to demonstrate a competitor's action and the related negative consequences suffered. If a clear connection between a competitor's alleged unfair action and the alleged damages is not demonstrated, a case may be difficult to win.
Source: WKZO, "Google wins dismissal of U.S. lawsuit over Android app limits," Jonathan Stempel, Feb. 20, 2015
Source: FindLaw, "California Antitrust Laws," accessed on Feb. 25, 2015