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Wisconsin, Michigan file motion to join federal Google antitrust lawsuit

Wisconsin and Michigan are planning to join a federal antitrust lawsuit against Google.

Josh Kaul, Wisconsin’s attorney general, and Dana Nessel, Michigan’s attorney general, filed a motion for joinder on Thursday. If approved, the motion will make Wisconsin and Michigan the 13th and 14th states to have joined the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit.

The DOJ lawsuit alleges Google violated federal antitrust laws by entering into exclusionary business agreements that shut out competitors and suppressed innovation. Nearly 90 percent of all internet searches in the U.S. are on Google, according to Kaul’s office.

The lawsuit said Google pays billions of dollars every year to companies like Apple, Samsung, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile to make Google their default search engine, and their contracts prohibit similar agreements with competing search engines. Google is the default search provider on all Apple devices and on nearly all devices running the Android operating system, among others.

The DOJ complaint said Google’s exclusionary agreements cover more than 80 percent of all U.S. search queries on mobile devices. Even for search queries not covered by Google’s exclusionary contracts, almost half occur on Google-owned search access points — such as Chrome, its browser, or Pixel, its smartphone.

The lawsuit said Google’s anticompetitive behavior has enabled the company to unlawfully maintain its monopoly on internet search and search-based advertising at the expense of consumers. The states maintain that Google is preventing new market entrants from develop alternatives that could improve online options and the quality of searches.

The state of California filed the lawsuit last week. The other participating states are Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas.

About Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at mpaukner@wislawjournal.com.

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