A federal judge, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, has made a significant ruling in the major antitrust case against Alphabet's Google. The trial, expected to commence next month, has now been narrowed down.
In 2020, a group of 38 state attorneys general filed a suit alleging that Google's dominance in the digital-ad space made it an unlawful monopoly. However, Judge Mehta has rejected part of their argument. Nevertheless, he has allowed the Justice Department and state officials to proceed with other antitrust arguments in the upcoming nonjury trial, including those targeting Google's search dominance.
Legal analysts have noted that while Friday's ruling eliminates a substantial claim against Google, it does uphold the core of the government's case. As a result, the antitrust trial will continue as planned.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who spearheaded the group of state attorneys general in the suit, expressed satisfaction that the case will proceed to trial.
The state attorneys general argued in their suit that Google used its search dominance to limit advertisements from competitors such as restaurant and travel booking sites. However, Judge Mehta stated in his decision that the state AGs had failed to provide evidence supporting their allegations.
Google's Dominance in the Online Advertising Market
According to research firm Insider Intelligence Inc., Google is the undisputed leader in the online ad market, capturing over one-quarter of U.S. digital-advertising revenue.
Google's Search-Engine Supremacy
Google's stronghold doesn't end with advertising revenue; the tech giant also commands a staggering 90% share of global search-engine queries. However, this dominance has not come without controversy.
The Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google
In October 2020, the Justice Department, along with other entities, filed a lawsuit accusing Google of monopolistic practices. The suit alleges that through exclusionary distribution agreements, Google steers billions of search queries its way every day.
The lawsuit specifically points to contracts that designate Google as the default search engine on popular browsers like Apple's Safari and Mozilla's Firefox.
In response to the allegations, Kent Walker, Google's chief legal officer, emphasizes that people choose to use Google because it provides a helpful experience. He states that promoting and distributing their services is both legal and pro-competitive.
Significance of the Case
The case against Google is expected to be one of the most important antitrust actions in the United States since the government's lawsuit against Microsoft in the 1990s.