Ohio AG Sues to Declare Google a Public Utility

  • Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against Google LLC (“Google”), seeking a legal declaration that the tech giant’s search engine qualifies as a common carrier and/or public utility under Ohio common law, which would subject the company to a heightened duty to provide its competitors equal access to its search engine infrastructure and enhanced search features.
  • The complaint alleges that Google engaged in discriminatory and anti-competitive conduct relating to common carriers and public utilities when it prioritized and accentuated Google products or services on its search results page with enhanced features unavailable to competitors. The complaint further argues that Google should be characterized as a common carrier and/or public utility under common law because its search services are indiscriminately made available to the public and its allegedly dominant position in online search makes its methods of operation a matter of public concern.
  • In addition to a legal declaration, the complaint also seeks injunctive relief prohibiting Google from self-preferencing in Ohio and requiring the company to offer competitors access to the enhanced search features it uses for Google-owned businesses.
  • Ohio’s lawsuit is the latest in a wave of state antitrust actions filed against Google. As previously reported, two multistate AG coalitions filed antitrust lawsuits against the company in December 2020.