It is always hard to say what trophy gives you the best bragging rights in Silicon Valley right now. Your own space rocket, like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’s or Tesla’s Elon Musk.
An office that makes the Starship Enterprise look cheap by comparison, like Apple, or extravagant staff benefits such free gender re-assignment, as Facebook and Netflix now provide.
They all make you look rich and important. But increasingly it looks like it might be something else entirely that makes you king of the hill – a long legal battle with the European Union.
Over the last week, Brussels has stepped up its attacks on Google. It was already taking action against it for allegedly manipulating its search results.
Now it is under scrutiny for its Android operating system for mobiles, with a potential fine running into billions of dollars if it is found guilty.
It is hardly the first time this has happened, however.
The Commission spent years investigating Intel, and after that Microsoft, and, as well as Google, it has also targeted Amazon for its supposed dominance of the e-book market.
If you haven’t been investigated by the European Union, you aren’t really anyone in Silicon Valley any more.
But hold on. There is a problem here. It is not just that there is not much foundation to the complaints, although that is true.
Nor is it that it increasingly looks like sour grapes, given that America dominates the tech industry, and Europe has woefully failed to compete, although there is some truth in that charge as well.
It is that the EU is not tackling far more serious industrial issues in its own backyard. Such as? Where is the action against Volkswagen for manipulating its diesel emissions tests? Or against France for an increasingly interventionist industrial policy? Or the drive to finally open up the financial services industry?
There is nothing wrong with wanting more competition and cracking down on monopolies – it would just be nice if the EU tried it in Europe.
It remains to be seen what happens to the action against Google. The EU believes its Android operating system, used in virtually all smartphones other than those made by Apple, gives it an unfair advantage in the market that it may be able to exploit to its own advantage and to block new players.
It is certainly true that Android has a lock on the market, although there is very little evidence that it seriously undermines competitors, and insofar as it does dominate the industry, that is because it is a really great product rather than because it has muscled out competitors.
Is there some fantastic French or German operating system we would all be using on our phones were it not for Google’s stamping down on it? No, thought not.
Of course, if the company is guilty, then it should be punished. Everyone – at least, everyone apart from Jeremy Corbyn – is in favour of more competition.
Opening up markets to new players and breaking up cartels and monopolies is one of the few ways we know for sure that economic growth can be boosted.
On the rare occasions it gets it right, the EU does actually have a useful role to play in forcing open industries that have grown lazy and inefficient behind a wall that protects them from real competition or innovation.
But you have to be living in some strange, parallel universe to believe that the likes of Google or Amazon are the real problem here.
There are literally tens of thousands of small companies that are springing up everyone because relatively open internet platform make it possible to create and scale up a business far faster than you ever could before and reach a national, continental or indeed global market at lightning speed.
In reality, there are some far more serious corporate scandals right here in Europe that the EU should be tackling.
First up, think about Volkswagen. There can surely be no dispute that the German car manufacturer did something very bad when it cheated on diesel emissions.
For that, there can be no excuse. Even worse, something similar may have happened at other European auto companies.
The United States is taking action against VW which may end up costing it billions.
But the EU? Elzbieta Bienkowka, the Czech commissioner responsible for the car industry, has asked for some information.
The European Parliament has set up an inquiry – thanks, chaps, sounds very scary.
Apart from that, it has done nothing. Indeed, there is even some disturbing evidence it may have connived with VW.
Imagine the outcry if it was an American company that had done that. But because it is German, the EU is indifferent.
Next take a look at French industrial policy. With its economy stuck in permanent decline, you might think that the Elysee Palace would meddle a little less, but you would be mistaken.
In fact, it has been getting more and more involved. It has increased its stake in Air France, it has been meddling in a proposed merger of Orange (in which it is also a shareholder) with other mobile operators, and it has been getting more and more involved in Renault, where it deliberately increased its stake to up its leverage.
Indeed there are disturbing reports that production of the brilliantly successful Qashqai, made by Renault’s partner Nissan, may be shifted from Sunderland to France under pressure from the state.
Meanwhile, the Florange Law was passed specifically to give the State’s votes more power. But the EU is meant to be working to reduce government influence and level playing fields, not standing by while it is massively increased. And yet Brussels has done nothing.