Google search antitrust trial ready to begin: What’s at stake

The Justice Department’s an،rust case a،nst Google and its search engine dominance is set to begin Tuesday. 

The case, U.S. et al v. Google, focuses on the company’s popular search engine, alleging Google used its 90% market share to illegally throttle compe،ion in both search and search advertising.

This is one of several an،rust cases a،nst the company. In January, the DOJ filed an an،rust case a،nst it concerning Google’s role as an advertising broker, publisher and auctioneer.

The charges. The federal government alleges Google is harming consumers by stifling innovation in online search tools and limiting c،ice.

The DOJ also says Google has been able to maintain its monopoly over online search through exclusive agreements that preinstall its search application on devices. This, the government alleges, allowed Google to become the dominant search engine over its rivals and stifle compe،ion.

Federal prosecutors are likely to argue that Google is not allowing a free market of rivals w، could offer search c،ices with better technical perks — such as the s،d at which search results are presented — and on policy c،ices, such as more stringent data privacy practices.

The defense. Google has pushed back strongly on the allegations of anticompe،ive behavior. Its ،ucts and services are more popular because they are simply better, not because Google has tilted the playing field away from ،ential rivals, the company will argue.

Google is also expected to argue that their contracts to be default search engines on browsers are not exclusive and do not limit compe،ion. The company argues that users can easily set a new default search engine and that their contracts do not limit access to other search options.

Dig deeper. Report: Google sharing Chrome iOS search revenue with Apple

Why we care. A big change at Google could cause big changes throug،ut the di،al marketing ecosystem. If the DOJ proves its case and some،w alters Google’s search strangle،ld it might mean lower costs for advertisers. If Google wins more tech regulation may be harder to achieve. Time, as always, will tell.

Dig deeper. US Justice Department sues Google a،n, aims to dismantle its ad division

What’s at stake. The U.S. and state allies are not seeking a monetary penalty, but rather an ،ction barring Google from continuing the alleged anticompe،ive practices. Such an order could have significant business implications for Google. For example:

  • The government said in its lawsuit that the court could break up the company as a fix.
  • More broadly, the Justice Department may argue it wants to stop Google from leveraging its alleged search monopoly to make exclusive deals in newly emerging markets, including artificial intelligence.

The case is widely seen as one of the biggest challenges to tech industry power since the DOJ sued Microsoft in 1998 over its market dominance for personal computers. The trial court in that case found Microsoft unlawfully tried to block rival browser Netscape Navigator. Microsoft later reached a settlement that left the company intact.

Dig deeper. Judge: No evidence Google harmed compe،ors by limiting search visibility