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Google Mocks EU & FTC Antitrust Enforcement in Courting Yahoo Again -- Part 9 Google Unaccountability Series

Google is mocking EU and FTC antitrust enforcement authorities in seeking to partner (collude) again with Yahoo, its #2 competitor, at the same time Google is deep in antitrust negotiations with the EU antitrust authorities who have already concluded Google is a predatory search monopolist, and while the FTC staff is poised to potentially recommend a sweeping Section 5 antitrust case against Google for deceptive and unfair business practices.

Yesterday Google Chairman Eric Schmidt publicly reiterated that Google would love to be a search partner with Yahoo.

Either Google is somehow confident of back-room political fixes to all their antitrust enforcement troubles, or Google is mocking antitrust authorities with a cavalier "stop us if you can" attitude.

Google continues to act as if it is accountable to no one. Let's review some pertinent history and facts to put in perspective how reckless Google's behavior is in this context.

Four years ago, the U.S. DOJ threatened a Sherman Section I & II monopolization case against Google in its official opposition of Google's proposed Google-Yahoo Ad Agreement.

The DOJ's prosecutor on that case, Sandy Litvack, said the DOJ case would have alleged that "Google has a monopoly and that [the advertising pact] would have furthered their monopoly." Litvack also said that DOJ was "making it clear to the parties and to the world that this is how the division viewed these particular aspects of Google's business."

Since that most serious antitrust warning, most all developments indicate Google's antitrust risk in partnering with Yahoo has increased not decreased.

First, Google's search advertising revenue market share has increased in the last four years mostly at Yahoo's expense. In other words, Google is more dominant now than four years ago.

Second, adding Yahoo's #3 search advertising revenue share to Google's would make Google even more dominant.

Third, Google is successfully leveraging its search dominance throughout the web ecosystem, most notably in mobile (Android), video (YouTube), browser (Chrome), and social (Google+). See chart: "Google's Rapidly Spreading Dominance."

Fourth, Google's antirust rap sheet has grown much longer since the DOJ threatened criminal antitrust prosecution in 2008.

 

  • In 2009, the FTC forced Google's CEO off of Apple's board as anti-competitive.
  • In 2010, the DOJ opposed the Google Book Settlement as anti-competitive and illegal; French authorities ruled Google a monopoly and found it guilty of search discrimination; DOJ found Google and five other companies illegally colluded with anti-poaching agreements; and the EU launched a formal investigation of Google's predatory search practices.
  • In 2011, a U.S. Federal Court rejected the Google Book Settlement as anti-competitive in giving Google an ill-gotten monopoly over orphan works; DOJ settled with Google over its ITA acquisition to mitigate its anti-competitive impact; FTC launched a broad Google antitrust investigation; and U.S. Senators responsible for antitrust oversight found antitrust complaints against Google warranted "thorough review."
  • In 2012, EU launched a Google antitrust investigation for anti-competitive abuse of standards essential patents; DOJ/FTC warn and investigate Google over abuse of standards essential patents; and the EU concluded Google was a monopoly that abused its monopoly power in four ways.

 

Finally, the DOJ and EU formally approved the Microsoft-Yahoo ad agreement after a long review in 2010. It is important to note it is very unusual for antitrust authorities to approve the creation of a de- facto duopoly; it underscores how lasting antitrust authorities fear Google's monopoly is. Importantly it also proved that both the Bush and Obama Justice Department prosecutors have the exact same problem with Google and Yahoo combining.

In sum, speculation that antitrust authorities somehow would be copasetic with Google and Yahoo partnering in search advertising is misinformed.

Since Google was last warned in strongest possible terms that a Google-Yahoo search advertising partnership was monopolistic four years ago, Google's rapidly spreading dominance in the marketplace and its continued scofflaw pattern of antitrust abuse, only reinforces the notion that Google is playing with antitrust fire in courting Yahoo -- yet again.

This is the unmistakable pattern of behavior of a monopoly with no fear of antitrust authorities or law enforcement, and which thinks it is above the law.

*****

Google Unaccountability Series:

Part 1: "Why Google Thinks It Is Above the Law"

Part 2: "Top Ten Untrue Google Stories"

Part 3: "Google's Growing Record of Obstruction of Justice"

Part 4: "Why FTC's $22.5m Privacy Fine is Faux Accountability"

Part 5: "Google's Culture of Unaccountability: In Their Own Words"

Part 6: "Google Mocks the FTC's Ineffectual Privacy & Antitrust Enforcement"

Part 7: "An FTC Googleopoly Get Out of Jail Free Card?"

Part 8: "Top Lessons to Learn for Google Antitrust Enforcers"

 

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