Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has gotten pretty big, many will agree. OK, as a company, as a brand, as a cultural icon, it has gotten huge. But has it become a monopoly is some parts of our world? Does it make Google a monopoly when it become a verb in our language and we all know what it means? “I just Googled my name and found …”
Well, put those thoughts of monopoly to rest, because a court has given its definition of “monopoly,” and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) is not it.
At least, that is the legal decision in Brazil, where a judge threw out a lawsuit by a small Brazilian retailer, who claimed that Google Search was an unfair monopoly that harmed smaller retail stores because the search results seemed to always favor Google Shopping sites and other partners first, pushing the local retailers down the list of results. Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has had this charge launched against it here in the U.S. as well as in Europe, and in Europe Google is working to change its algorithm so it is more neutral in its search results rather than always favoring its own services or partners.
The plaintiff in this case, Brazilian comparison shopping site Buscape, , claimed in its lawsuit that Google Search is set up to be a monopoly because its search results always favor Google Shopping sites when a user searches for a piece of merchandise, and thus Buscape and other similar competitor sites have their results pushed down the list, under all of the Google Shopping pages that are relevant. The plaintiff claimed that Google Search make up about 95 percent of the market in Brazil and manipulates its search results for its own benefit, which is detrimental to consumers.
However, this summary judgment denies the claims and does not label Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOOG) as a monopoly, staing in substance that users are not bound to using Google Search for results – they are welcome to use any number of other search engines to find merchandise, including the very search engine on Buscape’s own Web site.
Can this be a harbinger of similar lawsuits in other countries? The effect this might have on Google’s footprint could be important for investors like hedge-fund manager Chase Coleman of Tiger Global Management LLC.