Washington – The Department of Justice presented opening arguments in its case against Google’s search agreements. While much of the DOJ’s case was tossed out in August for lacking legal merit, it laid the groundwork for its attempt to prove that a type of agreement companies pay another company like a grocery store for prominent placement was exclusionary and anticompetitive for Google.
The DOJ used its opening statement arguing about the importance of default settings for search engines, and that search would be better if Google had more competitive rivals. Microsoft was mentioned heavily during the opening statement by those representing the states that joined the DOJ in its case against Google. An attorney representing states spent much of his opening argument making arguments for Bing and blaming Google for Bing’s lack of innovation and popularity.
Meanwhile, Google’s attorney emphasized how browsers and mobile platforms have every incentive to promote competition for search and make decisions on defaults based on what consumers want while also offering other choices a few clicks away.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has advocated for competition in the tech industry for more than 50 years, having aligned with the DOJ in past cases, including the IBM, AT&T and Microsoft matters.
The following can be attributed to CCIA President Matt Schruers:
“The DOJ argument is legally weak and will be difficult to prove as no actions blocked consumer choice in search. The DOJ case comes at a time when older search technology is being challenged in the market by AI, ChatGPT, voice assistants and a host of specialized vertical search services.”
“While this trial is getting attention as the biggest tech antitrust trial since Microsoft, we were at the Microsoft trial and this isn’t Microsoft. Architecturally, this is the opposite question before the court. The Microsoft case was about access to the Microsoft ecosystem. The Google case is about whether one company in another company’s ecosystem can negotiate for prominent placement. Historically, U.S. antitrust regulators have found these widely used business agreements for placement to be legal and even procompetitive. Many companies across sectors will be watching carefully to see if the government reverses precedent on this.”