The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) has opened a case against Google’s parent company, Alphabet, related to the company’s product practices which the JFTC believes violate the country’s Antimonopoly Act.
At issue is the company’s practice of dealing with Android phone manufacturers and the agreements Alphabet uses to control the search engines placed on these devices.
While Android is an open-source phone operating system, a majority of Android phone makers use the Google version and pay Alphabet for that right.
Alphabet stands accused of offering to return some of the licensing fees for its Android OS if the phone manufacturers keep Google as the default search engine on the phones.
The lawsuit is also exploring Google’s tactics for pressuring phone manufacturers to put Google’s browser software, Chrome, and its game store, Play Games, on all phones.
A JFTC spokesperson characterized the lawsuit, saying, “There is suspicion that through these steps it is excluding competitors’ business activity and restricting its business partners’ business activity in the search services market.”
This lawsuit is similar to ones in the U.S., India, and the EU.
The suit in the European Union began in 2010 and concluded in 2017 with Google being fined a record $2.7 billion dollars.
Google appealed the finding which a higher court upheld in 2021.
Two separate cases were filed in the U.S. – one by the U.S. Department of Justice, and the second by a group of 38 state attorneys general.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella testified in the DOJ trial which began in September with Nadella offering a simple description of how dominant Google has become.
Nadella said, simply, that the modern Internet is really “the Google Web” which leaves no room for other search engines like Microsoft’s Bing.