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Landmark Brazilian court case makes major play in the fight against Google

Posted by: Laurence Simons 26/09/12

Google is what you might call 'a pretty successful web start-up'.  It is currently worth around $198 billion and since you started reading this sentence approximately 66,000 Google queries were made worldwide. That kind of qualifies it as a big company.

Which means that a lot of other companies want a piece of Google, in whatever shape they can get it. As well as government initiated antitrust investigations from various authorities the world over, the in-house team at Google are tasked with fending off a slew of private antitrust lawsuits from rivals and companies that allege Google uses its standing as Google to unfairly refer traffic to its own vertical websites, violating antitrust and competition rules. And one such antitrust litigant is Buscapé.

Buscapé is a Brazilian price comparison site that made a case this month against Google for pushing its own service, Google Shopper, by unfairly manipulating search results in Buscapé's native Brazil. But a Sao Paolo court granted Google summary judgement against Buscapé, effectively ending the case in Google's favour. Why is this important? Two reasons.

Firstly, the legal system in Brazil is considered pretty similar to that of the US in these sort of cases, meaning anyone bringing their antitrust game to Google in America is going to need evidence and factual accusations in abundance. And secondly, with the courts ruling Google is not - despite its search engine domination - a 'monopoly', it can order its search engine results exactly however way it darn well pleases.

With internet giants being subject to suits the world over, a ruling such as the one in Brazil can send ripples through to similar lawsuits worldwide. As Insider Monkey claims, the result of this 'monopoly' ruling in Brazil could detract those would-be litigants in other countries, which is good news for both Google investors and for the workloads of Google's lawyers.