Google goes to court today with the US DOJ in a major anti-monopoly trial over search deals

The stage is set today for a new and major trial that concerns allegations of monopolist behavior by a major tech company. In this case, the company that’s accused of these practices is Google, and its being taken to court today by the US Department of Justice.

CNBC reports that the trial between Google and the DOJ starts today in front of a Washington D.C. District Court judge. The DOJ claims that Google has made anticompetitive moves surrounding its search engine by forcing other companies to make it the default on their products.

There are actually two parts to the DOJ’s case. One is that Google makes payment to companies that make web browsers like Apple with their Safari app so that the Google search engine is the default for those browsers.

The other part involves smartphone and tablet companies that want to use Google’s Android OS. The DOJ claims Google’s contracts with these device companies require them to install certain apps, including Search, before they can get get the full use of Google’s Android services.

CNBC says:

The government argues that these arrangements locked up important distribution channels for search, creating overwhelming barriers to entry for rival search engines to compete with. Because of Google’s alleged dominant position in the market, the government contends that these moves violated antitrust law by illegally maintaining a monopoly.

The DOJ also claims Google’s search advertising tool is incompatible with Microsoft’s Bing search engine, claiming that the company “favors advertising on its own platform and steers advertiser spending towards itself.”

On Friday, Kent Walker, the president of global affairs for both Google and its parent company Alphabet, wrote a blog post that previews the company’s defense in the trial with the DOJ. Walker stated in part:

We’re proud that browser makers opt to show Google Search based on the quality of our products. Apple’s leaders have said they choose Google because it’s “the best.” Importantly, our browser agreements are not exclusive. As shown below, Bing and Yahoo! also pay Apple to be featured in Safari, and other rival services appear, too. In short, our success comes down to the quality of our products, not the quantity of our contracts.

Walker also makes a point about Microsoft’s Bing search engine and how the company tries to, in his words, “aggressively”make it harder to switch from using Bing to Google Search on its Edge browser. He stated:

Despite this, the overwhelming majority of Microsoft users choose to search with Google. In fact, “Google” is the number one search query on Bing worldwide. Contrary to the DOJ’s theory, people know they have choices, and they make them.

Finally, Walker stated that the company’s Search Ads 360 “makes it easier for advertisers to manage campaigns on multiple platforms”and added, “American law doesn’t require putting the preferences of your competitors over those of your clients.”

CNBC says the Google-DOJ trial could take as long as 10 weeks to complete.

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