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Suit Claims Google's Deals With Android Device Makers Violate Antitrust Laws

Do Google's MADA contracts constitute restraint of trade?


A federal class action suit filed on Thursday charges that Google’s deals with certain Android device makers hurt competition and violate antitrust laws.

The suit, brought on behalf of two consumers as well as other Android device makers, says that the Mobile Application Distribution Agreements that Google has with device makers that use its Gmail, YouTube and other proprietary apps hurt competition.

“Google’s MADAs are contracts in restraint of trade that are designed to maintain and extend its monopolies in general search and handheld general search,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in San Jose, Calif. “Simply put, there is no lawful, pro-competitive reason for Google to condition licenses to pre-load popular Google apps on making its search product the default search engine on covered devices.

The so-called MADA contract came up recently in the Apple vs. Samsung suit as Google has agreed to partially indemnify Samsung for some patent claims based on commitments that are part of the contract.

Google freely gives away the open source core of Android, but device makers that want to distribute any of Google’s proprietary applications have to agree to include all of them and agree to other terms.

“Anyone can use Android without Google and anyone can use Google without Android,” Google said in a statement to Re/code. “Since Android’s introduction, greater competition in smartphones has given consumers more choices at lower prices.”

The suit seeks an injunction against Google as well as monetary damages.

More details to come.

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