Apple and Google face class-action lawsuit over search engine deal

Apple and Google face class-action lawsuit over search engine deal

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The complaint calls for both companies to be broken up.
Image: Apple/Google

Google’s deal with Apple, which ensures that it remains the default search engine in Safari across all Apple devices, is the subject of a new class-action lawsuit against both companies and their CEOs, Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook.

A lawsuit filed in California this week alleges that the two Silicon Valley giants have a non-compete agreement in internet search that violates U.S. antitrust laws and prevents Apple from launching a search engine of its own.

Apple and Google sued over special search deal

Although neither company talks about it publicly, the ongoing search deal between Apple and Google — which has been in place since the early days of iPhone — is hardly a well-kept secret. It’s not easy to hide a deal this big.

According to an August 2021 report, Google’s most recent payment to Apple to ensure it remains the default search provider on iPhone, iPad and Mac was around $15 billion. And that’s expected to rise to around $20 billion this year.

That’s if Apple and Google can keep the partnership alive. A new class-action lawsuit hopes to prevent that — and finally reveal the details of the actual sums paid by Google — by going after both companies and their CEOs.

The lawsuit alleges that Google gets preferential treatment from Apple, which suppresses competition and increases the cost of advertising rates. It also claims that Apple agrees not to compete by launching a search engine of its own.

Give us an injunction

The complaint calls for an injunction prohibiting the agreement between Apple and Google. Plus, it demands disclosure of the exact fees involved in the deal. It also calls for the breakup of both companies.

This isn’t the first time a lawsuit has been filed targeting Apple and Google’s search agreement. Authorities haven’t turned a blind eye to it, either, with regulators in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia all eyeing antitrust investigations.

Of course, Apple doesn’t prevent users from using other search engines on its devices. It allows the likes of Bing, DuckDuckGo and Yahoo to be set as the default instead of Google. But is that enough? We may soon find out.