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United States v. Google LLC – Latest Updates on the Antitrust Case

Oct. 9, 2023 12:01 am MST | SEO Gazette | by Luke Ross

As of September 2023, Google is embroiled in a high-profile antitrust lawsuit, set to last 10 weeks, with the U.S. government. This case mostly focused on Google’s search engine dominance is at the center of perhaps the biggest antitrust trial in decades. The core of the dispute lies in Google’s dominance in the online search market. Here’s a recap of the key developments in the case thus far:

Opening Remarks

The lawsuit, dubbed as the most significant antitrust trial in decades, commenced in New York on September 11, 2023. From the outset, the government’s objective is clear – to challenge Google’s stronghold on internet searches​.

Accusations

The prosecution argues that Google employs illegal tactics to maintain its dominance. The case particularly points to Google’s agreements with Apple, Mozilla, Samsung, and others, making Google the default search engine on various platforms. These agreements, according to the U.S. Justice Department, are valued at tens of billions of dollars annually, albeit the exact figures remain undisclosed​.

Testimonies

Several witnesses have testified to Google’s efforts in ensuring its search engine remains the default choice across numerous devices, carriers, and browsers, notwithstanding the risk of monopolization. Antonio Rangel, a behavioral economist, highlighted the significant impact of default settings on consumer choices, reinforcing the prosecution’s argument of anti-competitive behavior​. Another notable testimony was from Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, where he made claims such as:

❝ – “The internet is really the ‘Google Web’.”

❝ – “Despite my enthusiasm that there is a new angle with A.I., I worry a lot that this vicious cycle that I’m trapped in could get even more vicious.”

❝ – “You get up in the morning, you brush your teeth and you search on Google,” Nadella said according to a NY Times article, later stating that Google and Apple’s arrangement was “oligopolistic.”

❝ – Mr. Nadella on describing Google as “dominant” vs. the term of just “popular” — “call Google [sic] popular or dominant” “[Microsoft] is a very, very low-share player.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella arrived at federal court in Washington, D.C., to testify in the government’s antitrust case against Google. PHOTO: MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK/WSJ
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella arriving at federal court in Washington, D.C., to testify.
PHOTO: MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK/WSJ

Defense

Google, on the other hand, contends that its search engine’s dominance is due to the superior quality of its product, which users can easily swap for a competitor with a few clicks​.

Significance

The case’s outcome could potentially alter Google’s position as the leading search engine and reshape the internet’s trajectory, underlining the high stakes involved in this legal battle​. BBC News claims that Google is accused of ‘hobbling rivals’ to gain search monopoly – which doesn’t sound too good to present and future shareholders.

The United States Justice Department however isn’t concerned with Google’s monetary status or future, which has shown in the trial and “could significantly alter the company’s position” as dominant player in the industry.

Future Proceedings

According to Reuters, upcoming testimonies from executives of Verizon and Samsung, among others, are incoming and are eagerly anticipated, although some details will be sealed from the public due to confidentiality agreements​.

This lawsuit is emblematic of the broader scrutiny tech giants are facing over antitrust concerns. As the trial unfolds, the repercussions for Google and the tech industry at large remain to be seen.

Latest Updates Timeline

October 3, 2023

― Venue Appeal: Google urged a U.S. appeals court to prevent Texas and other states from moving their antitrust case from New York to Texas. This appeal is significant as it tests a new federal law from December 2022 that allows state attorneys general to choose their venue for antitrust lawsuits. The case, originally filed in Texas in 2020, was merged into multidistrict litigation in Manhattan in 2021. However, in August 2023, a federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation allowed Texas to leave the consolidated New York litigation.

― During the hearing on October 3rd, the judges showed some skepticism towards Google’s request to keep the case in New York, citing different legal precedents in various circuits which could lead to inconsistent rulings​.

October 5, 2023:

― Trial Proceedings: Google’s antitrust trial continues, where the company is accused of using underhand tactics to maintain its dominance as the world’s leading search engine​.

― Impact on Other Tech Companies: A related discussion emerges in another trial where a feature in Samsung smartphones faced pushback due to pressure from Google, shedding light on the larger antitrust environment surrounding Google and other tech companies​.

― A Forbes article remarked that the ongoing trial is likely to reveal the Department of Justice’s stance on antitrust issues, although it speculated that the trial may not significantly restructure the industry​

October 6, 2023:

― In the third week of the trial, a federal judge heard testimony from Senior Apple Executive Eddy Cue. The testimony mainly revolved around the revenue-sharing agreement between Apple and Google, which sets Google as the default search engine on Apple devices​.

October 19, 2023:

VP Nayak testimony

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