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🌏 Google gets served

Legit.
Good Monday afternoon and welcome to the first issue of Legit. Your source of legal news that’s fast, fun and digestible. We have a great roundup for you today - so settle in, scroll to the end, and hit reply to give us some feedback.
In today’s issue:
  • Google’s monopoly lawsuit.
  • Home Office’s heartbreak.
  • Nike fights fakes.
  • Oil strikes back.

ANTITRUST
Inside Google’s Big Monopoly Case
Google just got served. The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an antitrust suit against Google last Tuesday. This is big. The tech world hasn’t tangoed with antitrust on this scale since the government swung its axe at Microsoft back in ‘98.
What’s the allegation? The DOJ claims Google uses anti-competitive tactics to hog the search engine limelight. Things like:
  • Exclusive contracts to become the default search engine on devices.
  • Sharing advertising revenue with manufacturers to lure them into these contracts.
  • Preloading its (un-deletable) search app onto Android phones.
As a result, Google owns 90% of global browser usage. And the DOJ doesn’t think Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo (I don’t know what this is either) should go gently into that virtual night.
But Google doesn’t want to hear it, calling the suit “deeply flawed.” Its defense? People are free to download other search engines. It’s not Google’s fault they choose not to.
The key to antitrust cases is consumer harm, and Google execs are sticking to the story they haven’t caused any damage. According to Fortune, Google’s arguments include: a) its services benefit consumers; b) it has plenty of competition from Twitter and Amazon; c) its exclusivity contracts are no different to Coca-Cola buying prime shelf space at the grocery store.
THE TAKEAWAY
There are two ways a Google v. DOJ fight could go down:
  • Google loses and has to change up its business (like maybe selling off Chrome). Google calls this “Code Red.”
  • Google wins and dashes the government’s hopes of slaying other antitrust villains (Facebook, Amazon).
Orrrr… what happened in the EU might play out again i.e. Google is fined billions for dominating the market and then continues to dominate the market anyway.
P.S. if the thought of 'Yahoo-ing’ stuff gives you anxiety, rest assured Google isn’t being chopped up anytime soon. It took the government 3 years to reach an agreement with Microsoft.
IMMIGRATION
Priti Please?
In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal ruled a Home Office policy that gives migrants 72 hours to make representations or face deportation is unlawful.
The appeal was brought by charity Medical Justice, who argued the policy was a serious threat to the rule of law because it would be impossible for most migrants to hire lawyers at such short notice.
THE TAKEAWAY
It’s heartbreak for Home Sec. Priti Patel, diehard fan of tough migration policies and longtime hater of “lefty lawyers.” In the wake of the judgement, a Home Office spokesperson called Britain’s immigration system “fundamentally broken.”
Zoom out: Sunday sent more sorrow the Home Office’s way:
  • In the morning, illegally detained asylum seekers announced they were suing the Home Office.
  • In the evening, 800 legal figures - including three ex-Supreme Court justices - asked Patel and PM Boris Johnson to stop their mean-girl tirade towards lawyers.
FASHION
Just Sue It
Last week, Nike filed a trademark suit against LA streetwear brand Warren Lotas for (allegedly) manufacturing bootlegged shoes.
The backstory. In 2005, Nike released a sneaker with designer Jeff Staple. The shoe, called the SB ‘Pigeon’ Dunk, was so exclusive it caused a riot. One month ago, Warren Lotas and Jeff Staple announced they were teaming up to ‘reinterpret’ the SB Dunks.
Translation: they copy/pasted the original Dunks, including Nike’s iconic swoosh, and made a few tiny tweaks. While sneakerheads went wild, Nike lawyered up.
Just sue it? In court filings, Nike accused the LA designer of intentionally capitalizing on the “confusingly similar shoe”. Two days later, an unfazed Warren logged into Instagram to argue the shoe should be “a trophy for small business, rather than a source of controversy.”
THE TAKEAWAY
Nike’s been riding the trademark infringement wave lately. Gunning for Warren Lotas, a big-ish brand, is designed to intimidate the long line of Nike plagiarists.
But Nike might not have a slam-Dunk case:
  • The court has to find a likelihood of WL sneakers causing buyer confusion. This might be fiddly; WL never said their sneakers were Nike-affiliated.
  • Jeff Staple (who’s weirdly not a co-defendant) green-lit the WL sneakers.
Bonus takeaway: Nike’s original Dunks are now worth $18,000… a better investment than gold. If you have a time machine, HMU.
M&A
Big Oil’s Big Gamble
Image: Giphy
Image: Giphy
As Big Oil has its biggest breakdown yet, one man is making a slippery bet…
Ryan Lance, CEO of oil giant ConocoPhillips, is buying rival Concho Resources for a modest $9.7 billion, creating the world’s largest oil and gas producer. Although the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts the drop in oil demand is here to stay, Ryan Lance is betting global demand will recover by 2022.
THE TAKEAWAY
Energy execs have had a rough year, and oil and gas producers are looking to marry up to survive the slowdown. But ConocoPhillips’ acquisition is coming at a weird time. In the last presidential debate, Biden called on the US to transition away from Big Oil - meaning a Democrat election win could see oil demand struggle to stabilise.
Zoom out: Oil isn’t too hot in the UK, either. British oil execs, like BP, are distancing themselves from oil and gas to invest in clean energy.
LEGIT ONE-LINERS
  • Amy Coney Barrett’s final confirmation vote is tonight.
  • Goldman Sachs is fined $2.9 billion after pleading guilty to bribing Malaysian officials in the infamous 1MDB scandal.
  • Chinese fintech giant Ant’s dual listing is breaking Saudi Aramco’s record as the world’s largest IPO.
  • Poland’s abortion ban sparks protests.
  • Jared and Ivanka are threatening to sue over Republican-funded Times Square billboards linking them to COVID deaths.
  • The 400-page deposition Ghislaine Maxwell tried to bury is made public - here’s the summary.
  • Burford Capital becomes the first legal finance firm to list on the NYSE, as law firms turn to litigation funding to offset COVID losses.
  • A rapper who rapped about committing unemployment fraud is arrested. The incriminating bars? “You gotta sell cocaine, I can just file a claim/Unemployment so sweet we had 1.5 land this week.”
LEGALTECH SPOTLIGHT
This legal design startup thinks contracts need some visual TLC… who wants to read a block of Times New Roman text, anyway?
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