Last year, I began work on a project that alerted me and my co-counsel to a new antitrust challenge that many young, innovative companies were facing. In addition to the roadblocks already erected by Google, companies’ mobile phone manufacturer partners were reporting that Google was seeking to renegotiate agreements under which it shared revenue from consumer searches on mobile devices using Google Search.
The catch? To continue to receive a share of the ad revenue associated with searches, manufacturers had to agree to broad exclusivity terms under which they were forced to use Google’s search or assistant functionality. This caused the mobile phone companies to slow or entirely stop work with products or companies even loosely associated with those search functions, regardless of whether Google actually provided a replacement solution.