Canada’s Competition Bureau Escalates Google Antitrust Investigation

Google legalCanada’s Competition Bureau (CCB) has indicated that it will proceed with a formal antitrust investigation against Google. The CCB had been engaged in a preliminary inquiry.

A new CCB court filing requests a range of documents that will potentially show, according to the CCB, Google’s alleged abuse of market power and anti-competitive behavior in Canada. The claims in the investigation are similar to those raised by the now concluded FTC investigation and the current European Commission investigation.

The Financial Post in Canada first reported the action by the CCB. The filing asserts that Google “substantially or completely controls” the Canadian search market, with more than 90 percent share. StatCounter shows 88 percent.

The following are the primary claims of anti-competitive behavior against Google:

  • Exclusive search syndication and distribution agreements, including “default search” agreements with hardware makers
  • Universal and vertical search results that “favor” its own content and properties (this is the center of the European action as well)
  • Anti-competitive terms and restrictions on the use of AdWords API data by third parties (despite the fact that these were removed after the FTC settlement)

The CCB court filing seeks to compel production of Google Canada documents relevant to each of these claims. Various fines and other remedies are available to Canadian authorities to restrain the practices in question if Google is found to have violated Canadian antitrust laws.

Below is the CCB’s court filing.