Attorney General Morrisey Sues Google, Targets Unlawful Search Monopoly

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has joined a bipartisan coalition of 38 attorneys general to sue Google LLC for anticompetitive conduct in violation of federal law.

The coalition alleges Google illegally maintains monopoly power over general search engines and related advertising markets through a series of anticompetitive exclusionary contracts and conduct.

“Big tech must be held accountable to ensure meaningful access to competition,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Corporations have a right to thrive, but they must not do so at the expense of severely and unlawfully limiting consumer choice. Increased competition provides improved privacy protections, more targeted results and greater opportunities.”

The coalition alleges Google’s monopolistic behaviors deprived consumers of competition that would lead to greater choice, innovation and better privacy protections.

Furthermore, the attorneys general argue Google has exploited its market position to accumulate and leverage data to the detriment of consumers.

Thursday’s lawsuit is consistent with one filed in October by the U.S. Department of Justice, although the coalition asserts additional allegations and describes Google’s monopoly maintenance scheme as a multi-part effort.

The lawsuit alleges that Google limits the ability of rival search engines and potential rivals to reach consumers, disadvantages users of its search-advertising management tool by favoring advertising on its own platform and discriminates against specialized search sites by depriving them of access to prime real estate.

Such conduct cements Google as the go-to search engine on computers and mobile devices and inflates its profits to the detriment of advertisers and consumers, the lawsuit states.

The attorneys general seek a court order to halt Google’s illegal conduct and restore competition. Their lawsuit also looks to unwind any advantages that Google gained as a result of its anticompetitive conduct, including the divestiture of assets as appropriate.

West Virginia joined with attorneys general in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming, the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.

The lawsuit and a motion to consolidate with the federal case were filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Read the lawsuit at https://bit.ly/3p4UZpE.