Judge Jeremy Fogel of the US Federal District Court for the Northern District of California has dismissed the antitrust claims brought against the Internet search engine pioneer, Google, by rival KinderStart.com. KinderStart, a Google customer, operates an Internet directory and search engine that focuses on parentingrelated Internet content. It filed suit against Google after suffering a nearly 70 percent drop in Internet traffic to its site and a corresponding drop in advertising revenues. It alleged that such losses were caused by Google’s decision dropping KinderStart from the top-10 ranked Internet search results about parenting and removing KinderStart from certain search results. According to KinderStart’s complaint, Google attempted to monopolize the US market for Internet search engines, as well as the market for advertising on such websites. In response, Google argued that it has no obligation to support its competitors and that it has a First Amendment right to rank websites as it sees fit to best serve the needs of its users.
Siding with Google, Judge Fogel dismissed KinderStart’s complaint for failing adequately to plead its antitrust claims. Specifically, Fogel rejected KinderStart’s proposed relevant markets, finding that Internet search engines did not constitute a legally cognizable market for antitrust purposes and that the market for advertising on search engine websites was too narrow. Fogel further held that Google’s actions were not predatory, but rather legitimate, competitive business decisions.