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Google Accused of Internet Search Monopoly

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    HANNOVER, GERMANY - MARCH 02: The camera of a German Google Street View car looms over the car next to the Google logo at the Google stand at the CeBIT Technology Fair on March 2, 2010 in Hannover, Germany. Google's Street View project has raised cotroversy from people across Europe worried about infringement of their privacy. CeBIT will be open to the public from March 2 through March 6. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

    A Seattle-based law firm filed a national class-action lawsuit claiming that Google has monopolized Internet and mobile search, according to a report.

    Law firm Hagens Berman filed a nationwide antitrust complaint against Google last week on behalf of plaintiffs in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, according to a statement. The lawsuit also claims that Google maintained and expanded its monopoly by "pre-loading its applications onto Android mobile devices," Reuters reported.

    By placing Google's apps, such as YouTube or Google Maps, it kept prices for Android phones "artificially high," according to the report, because of Google's  Mobile Application Distribution Agreements.

    Google denied any wrongdoing and that both Google and Android don't have to be used in tandem..
    "Anyone can use Android without Google and anyone can use Google without Android. Since Android's introduction, greater competition in smartphones has given consumers more choices at lower prices," Google spokesman Matt Kallman told Reuters.
    The law firm is representing named plaintiffs such as Gary Feitelson, of Louisville, Ky. an owner of an HTC EVO 3D mobile phone, and Daniel McKee,  of Des Moines, Iowa and owner of a Samsung Galaxy S III mobile phone. The complaint alleges that both men's phones would have cost less and had better search if there had been more competition without Google’s distribution agreements.
    “It’s clear that Google has not achieved this monopoly through offering a better search engine, but through its strategic, anti-competitive placement," said Steve Berman,founding partner of Hagens Berman and an attorney on the case. 
    Hagens Berman may seem familiar because it's also the law firm behind the the class-action suit against Apple and five major publishers, which alleges that the companies conspired to inflate the prices of e-books. (That case is still active, although has had at least one settlement from publisher Penguin.)
    Google has also run afoul of antitrust probes before, so it's not surprising it surfaces again. Perhaps it's a good thing to challenge the world's most successful search engine on its business practices on a regular basis.