West Virginia joins multi-state lawsuit against Google for anti-competitive conduct

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has joined a bipartisan coalition of 38 attorneys general to sue Google for anticompetitive conduct in violation of federal law, according to a release from his office.

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

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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

“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.”

According to the release, the coalition alleges that Google’s monopolistic behaviors deprived consumers of competition that would lead to greater choice, innovation and better privacy protections. Additionally, the coalition argues that Google has exploited its market position to accumulate and leverage data to the detriment of consumers.

The release stated that this lawsuit is consistent with another lawsuit that was filed in October by the U.S. Department of Justice, however; the coalition asserts additional allegation and describes Google’s monopoly scheme as a “multi-part effort.”

According to the release, 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, the release stated.

According to the release, 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 release stated that this lawsuit and a motion to consolidate with the previous federal case were filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The full lawsuit can be read here.

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