Google Antitrust Trial Begins, DOJ Argues the Search Business ‘Always Turns to Google’s Advantage’

There’s a reason that “Googling” has become the word for searching for something on the Internet, a Department of Justice lawyer told a judge to start the biggest U.S. antitrust trial this century.

It’s because the company behind the search engine used ironclad deals with smartphone makers and other tech companies to squeeze out rivals, using its monopoly power to dominate the search market and pull in billions in revenue as a result, lead Justice Department attorney Kenneth Dinzer said Tuesday.

Google has used agreements where it pays to be the default search provider on smartphones from Apple and other companies, and on browsers like Mozilla’s Firefox, as part of a powerful cycle that entrenches the company’s dominance in search, Dinzer argued as the trial opened Tuesday in federal court in Washington.

“Google’s contracts ensure that rivals cannot match the search quality ad monetization, especially on phones,” Dintzer said. “Through this feedback loop, this wheel has been turning for more than 12 years. It always turns to Google’s advantage.”

The trial in the case, which the Justice Department filed in 2020 is likely to take about 10 weeks and is expected to see high profile names, including Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and high-ranking Apple executive Eddy Cue called to the stand. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta likely won’t issue a ruling until early next year, The Associated Press reported. A guilty verdict would lead to another trial to determine what remedies are needed.

“This case is about the future of the internet and whether Google’s search engine will ever face meaningful competition,” Dintzer told the judge in his opening statement.

The government nevertheless documents it said showed that Google in 2007 was focused on securing those default search agreements, arguing that those positions could be a “powerful strategic weapon” for the company’s search business and an “Achilles heel” for rivals, The New York Times reported. As an example, the government said, Google threatened it would not share revenue with Apple without “default placement” on its devices and an agreement that Apple couldn’t redirect searches to its Siri assistant.

“Your honor, this is a monopolist flexing,” Dinzer said.

A separate lawsuit against Google filed by nearly 40 states two months after the Justice Department filed suit is being considered by Judge Mehta in this trial as well. Some of their arguments were thrown out last month.

Representing the states is lawyer William Cavanaugh, who argued in his opening statement that Google hurt Microsoft by manipulating the features in its advertising campaign product.

Google lawyer John Schmidtlein, in his opening statement, told the judge that some of the company policies the government is targeting in the case actually increase competition. For example, he said the agreements to preload Google apps on Android smartphones help create a counterbalance to Apple’s iOS operating system, The Times reported.

The post Google Antitrust Trial Begins, DOJ Argues the Search Business ‘Always Turns to Google’s Advantage’ appeared first on TheWrap.