Google foreshadows its final arguments in search monopoly trial

Google has offered a glimpse into its final arguments to a DC federal judge as it seeks to convince the court it’s not operating an unlawful monopoly in search.

The company filed an unsealed version of its posttrial brief on Friday in its battle against the US Department of Justice over its search distribution agreements. The DOJ has argued that Google used exclusionary contracts with phone manufacturers and web browser operators to make it harder for other search engines to compete. It’s expected to file its own brief by the end of the day as well.

In the brief filed Friday, Google said that evidence from the trial shows “conclusively” that “Google is the highest quality, most popular search engine in the United States, with the highest general search engine advertising monetization. The evidence additionally established that the partners who choose to contract with Google to preload Google Search as the default search engine overwhelmingly prefer Google to any other search engine.”

Witnesses at the trial included executives that run Google Search competitors, like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg. They described how Google’s alleged cornering of the market prevented them from gaining the necessary search volume that could help them become more robust alternatives.

Google says that the DOJ and collection of states that sued it want to “have Google punished and uniquely handicapped from competing to win these revenue share agreements.” The result, Google argues, would be giving lower-quality search engines a leg up with the hope they will rise to the challenge, “despite a long track record of failing to achieve such success in the past, even after they won search defaults or otherwise acquired search query scale through agreements with other search engines like the 2009 Microsoft-Yahoo agreement.”

“That result is antithetical to U.S. antitrust law,” Google continues. “Punishing a successful firm that has out-innovated its competitors to the benefit of consumers harms competition, not the other way around.”

The DOJ and states that have challenged Google also have until the end of the day to file public versions of posttrial materials, based on the court’s instructions. Closing arguments in the case are expected in May, following a multi-week trial that wrapped up at the end of 2023.

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