Microsoft, Google and Antitrust: Similar Legal Theories in a Different Era
The governments antitrust case against Google borrows heavily from the landmark lawsuit against Microsoft 25 years ago. But it lacks the same cultural impact.
The Justice Department argues in a federal antitrust suit that Google is a dominant tech company that has abused its market power to bully industry partners, protect its monopoly and thwart competition.
That has a familiar ring. As U.S. et al. v. Google goes to trial this week, the echoes of the landmark federal suit against Microsoft, a quarter-century ago, are unmistakable. In the Google case, as with Microsoft then, a tech giant is accused of using its overwhelming market power to unfairly cut competitors off from potential customers.
But on the eve of the Google trial, it seems unimaginable that the case could command the widespread attention that the Microsoft proceedings did. Microsoft in the late 1990s was a singular tech titan and its leader, Bill Gates, was a national icon.
The Microsoft trial, which began in October 1998, spanned 76 days of testimony over more than eight months. Every major news organization covered it. The New York Times reported on the proceedings daily.