Google free from US antitrust shackles as judge dismisses lawsuit

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A US federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed against Google which accused the search giant of forcing Android device owners to use Google’s applications the default option.

According to the complaint, Google forced Android handset owners to use its own applications like Google Search, Google Maps or YouTube instead of applications by Microsoft’s Bing or other rivals.

These practices, in turn, illegally pushed smartphone prices higher as rivals could not compete for the “prime screen real estate” that Google’s apps enjoyed.

U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman dismissed the lawsuit as the plaintiffs failed to show up sufficient evidence to prove that the practices adopted by Google had led to a rise in prices or stifled creativity in any manner.

The judge said that there were an unknown number of supply chain levels between the smartphone manufacturers, who signed the allegedly anti-competitive pacts with Google, and the consumers.

“Their alleged injuries – supracompetitive prices and threatened loss of innovation and consumer choice – are not the necessary means by which defendant is allegedly accomplishing its anticompetitive ends,” Freeman wrote.

The judge has given the plaintiffs three weeks’ time to amend their complaint under the federal Sherman antitrust law and California’s unfair competition law.

Lawyer for the plaintiffs, Robert Lopez, and Google spokesman, Aaron Stein, declined to comment on the court’s decision.