- Google and the Department of Justice are heading to court in a blockbuster antitrust case.
- It revolves around how Google pays partners to promote its search engine on their products.
- A law expert says the DOJ has a “pretty strong” case but has big hurdles to prove Google is liable.
Google LLC is set to begin trial Tuesday defending itself from a landmark lawsuit that alleges the search engine company violated numerous antitrust laws to monopolize both the search and advertising markets.
The case — the first major federal antitrust lawsuit against a big tech company in 25 years — was first filed by the Department of Justice in October 2020, during the Trump Administration.
The lawsuit was the result of a high-profile, 16-month federal investigation into the Mountain View-based company’s business practices
What will the trial focus on?
The trial will center on whether Google quashed competition by paying Apple (an estimated $8 billion to $12 billion a year) and other companies to be the default search provider on their devices and products, and deterred users from accessing rival services in the process.
It also accuses Google of illegally requiring its Android device partners to preinstall other Google apps, such as Maps and Gmail, something the company has denied.
The case could have been broader. In December 2020, 38 states and districts filed a follow-on lawsuit to the DOJ’s that made additional accusations of anticompetitive behavior, including that Google had disadvantaged rivals like Yelp and Tripadvisor by lowering their visibility in search results. That lawsuit eventually merged with the DOJ suit.
Last month, Judge Amit Mehta, who is overseeing the case, threw out some key claims brought by the states, including that Google’s design of search results harms rivals.
Two core claims will proceed: that Google harmed competitors through “exclusionary” agreements with Apple and other partners, and that it acted anticompetitively with its search ad tool Search Ads 360.