Google Strikes Back In Search Antitrust Lawsuit

Google’s motion to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit about its search engine has been made public by the courts. This lawsuit could break up a core Google service to increase competition online. In a motion for summary judgment filed on December 12, the company says that the complaint unfairly punishes its success by misrepresenting its agreements with browser developers and Android phone makers. It says that “turning competition law on its head” would mean that Google would have to stop competing hard or that browser developers would have to change how their products are made so that customers have a worse experience.

In 2020, the US Department of Justice and a group of state attorneys general sued Google as part of an effort to limit the power of the web giant. (The state and federal lawsuits were filed separately, but they were mostly merged.) The latest complaint says that Google used its position as the market leader and its Android operating system to lock up the search market, preventing competitors from getting “vital distribution, scale, and product recognition.” It wants to change how things are set up so that Google has less power over new companies.

Google Strikes Back In Search Antitrust Lawsuit
Google Strikes Back In Search Antitrust Lawsuit

Google’s brief, which is mostly redacted, says that its search deals, which include deals with Mozilla and Apple to put Google search in their browsers, don’t stop people from using other search engines and are just the result of Google being better than its competitors.

The filing says there is no evidence that Google forced Apple, Mozilla, or any other browser developer to use a design with a single default search engine. In the same way, it says that its contracts with companies that make Android phones are not exclusive deals. And in a separate case in Colorado, Google denies that it stacked its search results in an unfair way against “vertical” search engines like Yelp, which has always said that Google favors its services.

In Europe, where antimonopoly efforts are more active, there has been a lot of antitrust scrutiny of Google Search. Last year, the European Union General Court upheld a €4.125 billion (about $4.4 billion) fine against Google for putting “illegal restrictions” on Android phone makers to keep its search market share. It was once criticized for putting a rival shopping search engine lower in its results. Google said it did this to get rid of low-quality results.

At the end of 2022, there wasn’t much of a push in the US to change antitrust law in a way that would make big tech companies face more legal risks.

But Google and the government are still fighting over whether the company broke the law. The company is also fighting a separate lawsuit that says it used unfair business practices to get to the top of the ad-tech field. In September, a judge cut down the suit and threw out the claim that Google and Facebook worked together to fix the market. In a more recent lawsuit, Google is accused of abusing its power in Android’s Google Play Store. This is similar to a high-profile case that Fortnite developer Epic Games is still fighting.

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