WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Google faced specific questions from a judge on Thursday as it said allegations by the U.S. Department of Justice that it violated antitrust law to build and maintain its dominance over search operations were flawed and that the agency’s lawsuit should be quashed. .
The government, which sued in the waning days of the Trump administration, has argued that Alphabet (GOOGL.O) Google is acting illegally in paying billions of dollars a year to smartphone makers like Apple, LG, Motorola and Samsung, carriers like Verizon and browsers like Mozilla. To be the default search for its customers.
Judge Amit Mehta actively cross-examined Google’s attorney, John Schmidten. Mehta pressed him, for example, if dominance in search meant that Google’s search engine would improve faster than its competitors. He also asked whether the deals give the company a “non-competitive” advantage.
Google’s Schmidtlin replied, “It’s never illegal to offer a superior product, and to win business on merit.”
Judge Schmidten also asked why the company pushed for it to be the default search engine on devices.
Schmidten replied that the goal is to make people aware of Google products and make it easier for them. “There is nothing wrong or outrageous about that,” he said.
Kenneth Dentzer of the Department of Justice has argued that because of its huge market share, Google cannot legally make the same deals that a less powerful search engine company could.
In particular, he said, Google should not have agreements with Apple that require Google to be the default search engine.
Loss of innovation?
Google has argued in court filings that the payments in question are legal profit-sharing deals rather than illegal efforts to exclude competitors.
The government has also argued that Google’s dominance likely means a loss of innovation, prompting Mehta to highlight the rise of ChatGPT.
Dintzer replied that it is hard to predict what technological progress would have happened without Google’s dominance.
The decision on summary judgment will be made by Mehta of the US District Court for the District of Columbia. The case is scheduled to be heard in September.
Google’s move is the internet company’s latest attempt to end many costly and time-consuming lawsuits from state and federal governments aimed at curbing its market power.
The Justice Department sued Google in 2020, accusing the trillion-dollar company of illegally using its market muscle to block competitors in the biggest challenge to Big Tech’s power and influence since it sued Microsoft Corp. in 1998. The settlement left The company is what it is though The decision to rein in Microsoft left room for Google, founded in 1998, and others to thrive.
Since that lawsuit was filed, Google has been hit with other antitrust complaints. The Justice Department filed a second lawsuit in January accusing the company of abusing its dominance in the digital advertising space.
A group of states led by Texas also sued over the advertising technology in 2020 while states led by Utah sued in 2021 saying the company violated antitrust law in doing business with its toy store.
Reporting by Diane Bartz. Edited by Aurora Ellis
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