US Wraps Up Landmark Antitrust Case Against Google

Government wraps up its evidentiary phase of landmark antitrust case against Alphabet’s Google, but closing arguments may come in 2024

US prosecutors have wrapped up a key section of the landmark antitrust trial against Alphabet’s Google division.

Reuters reported that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) highlighted key parts of its antitrust arguments against Google on Thursday, wrapping up the evidentiary phase of the court battle.

It comes as the tech giant has been accused of breaking the law with its tactics used to dominate the online search market, including making deals to pay other firms so that they defaulted their products to Google search.

Google antitrust

The DoJ had filed a civil antitrust suit against Google for monopolising search and search advertising back in 2020.

Google is also facing another antitrust lawsuit, after the DoJ, along with a number of Attorneys Generals from US states filed a civil antitrust suit against Google for monopolising multiple digital advertising technology products in violation of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act in January 2022.

Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella had recently testified against Google in the antitrust trial, stating that “everybody talks about the open web, but there is really the Google web.”

The DoJ has focused on Google signing multibillion-dollar agreements with the likes of Apple and others, to make Google search the default on their products.

Pichai has defended the huge amounts of money it pays to Apple and others to ensure that its search engine is the default search engine on their products.

Indeed it was reported that Google paid Apple $26 billion in 2021 to make its search engine default option.

This week Google CEO Sundar Pichai confirmed that Google pays Apple 36 percent of Safari search revenue, under the terms of the default search agreement.

Sundar Pichai Google Android

Wrapping up

The Google antitrust trial began on 12 September and is expected to largely end Thursday, Reuters reported, as officials finish up the evidentiary phase of the court battle.

Reuters also noted that no decision on whether to hold closing arguments, the final phase of the trial, has been made. They may reportedly be held in the spring of 2024, according to courtroom discussions about future hearings.

Reuters reported that witnesses from Verizon, Samsung and Google itself have previously testified about the company’s annual payments – $26.3 billion in 2021 – to ensure that its search is the default search engine on smartphones and browsers.

The final witness for the US was reportedly MIT economics professor Michael Whinston.

Whinston reportedly argued as the hearing began that those contracts helped provide Google with market power in the search advertising market, and that “Google has exercised significant market power by raising prices.”

Previous antitrust cases

The Google antitrust trial is the biggest Justice Department challenge to the tech industry since its 2001 antitrust case against Microsoft.

Microsoft managed to avoid being broken up when the US agency settled its 2001 antitrust case against Redmond.

However former Microsoft executives were quoted by Reuters as saying that battle made the company more bureaucratic and slow, with new products having to pass through multiple legal reviews before release.

Prior to that in 1982, a successful federal antitrust case against AT&T, saw the US telecoms giant being broken up.

In 1969 the Justice Department dropped its lawsuit against IBM – 13 years after it was originally filed.