After a patent lawsuit against Google last week, Sonos is ready to investigate Google (and possibly other technology giants) ahead of Congress today. The audio company's CEO testifies at noon to the house's judicial committee, along with PopSockets, Tile, and Basecamp executives, all of whom have complained about copying, unfair printing, or even a "shakedown" by large Silicon Valley companies.
The hearing is part of a long series of similar events organized by the Subcommittee on Antitrust Law under the name "Online Platforms and Market Power". Previous events dealt with the overlap of competition and issues such as press freedom, data protection and entrepreneurship. This fifth session of the series looks at “Competitors in the Digital Economy”. It is held remotely at the University of Colorado Law School and runs through the Law School Channel below.
Like The Washington Post state that representatives of the four companies will reveal the real cost of powerful potential monopolies. Tile claims that Apple made it more difficult to use its location locators after Apple launched a similar product, creating a "confusing and frustrating" experience for the huge iPhone user base. Project management tool maker Basecamp found that Google placed competitor ads on searches for their name, forcing them to pay for better visibility. According to PopSockets, Amazon has equipped the company to sell its ubiquitous phone handles in awkward terms. And Sonos recently filed a lawsuit against Google for allegedly infringing its patents. (Apple, Amazon and Google have refused to use their size to unfairly suppress competition.)
Speakers today include Sonos CEO Patrick Spence, PopSockets founder and CEO David Barnett, Basecamp co-founder and CTO David Heinemeier Hansson and Tile Vice President and General Counsel Kirsten Daru.
In all of the above cases, the smaller companies had few other opportunities to sell or promote their work. Google controls the vast majority of search traffic, Amazon is an immensely dominant retailer, and Apple has a large share of the phone market. Facebook is missing from the target list, although it is also the subject of an antitrust investigation. But we will likely still see a wide-ranging condemnation from large technology companies – and a continuation of an ongoing backlash against Silicon Valley.