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Landmark Monopoly Trial Between DOJ and Google Wraps Up

 |  May 2, 2024

After months of deliberation and courtroom battles, the landmark monopoly trial between the U.S. Justice Department and Google is now approaching a crucial juncture. Following a hiatus spanning five months, both sides are gearing up to present their closing arguments starting Thursday, aiming to sway the federal judge overseeing the case.

At the heart of the matter lies the Justice Department’s accusation that Google has unlawfully exploited its monopoly status to dominate the search engine market, resulting in sidelined competitors and compromised user experiences. In contrast, Google contends that its search engine’s popularity is a testament to its superior quality, rather than any monopolistic practices, as cited by the New York Times.

This trial marks a significant milestone as the first major antitrust case against a tech giant to progress to this stage among several similar actions initiated by the U.S. government in recent years. Notably, the U.S. has also pursued legal action against other tech behemoths including Amazon, Apple, and Meta, alleging practices detrimental to both competitors and consumers, according to The New York Times.

The trial, which commenced last fall and spanned over a grueling 10-week period, witnessed fierce courtroom confrontations. Notable figures from Silicon Valley, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, took the stand to provide testimonies, while a multitude of internal documents were scrutinized. Contentions arose over redacted evidence, closed-door testimonies, and allegations of tampering with employee chat logs.

Read more: Google Accuses US Government of Targeting Success in Antitrust Battle

The lawsuit against Google was initially filed by the Justice Department in 2020, joined by 35 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Both lawsuits were consolidated and heard by Judge Amit Mehta, with proceedings concluding in November, according to the New York Times.

Central to the Justice Department’s case were allegations that Google engaged in anti-competitive practices through its dealings with device manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, as well as web browser companies such as Mozilla, the creator of Firefox.

During the trial, the government presented evidence indicating that Google paid substantial sums annually to secure exclusive agreements with these companies. Witness testimonies revealed that in 2021 alone, Google disbursed $26.3 billion for these arrangements, with Apple reportedly receiving around $18 billion, making it the most lucrative deal, according to the New York Times.

As a bench trial, the decision rests solely with Judge Mehta, who is expected to deliver his ruling in the coming months following the conclusion of closing arguments. If the judgment favors Google, the company’s business practices are likely to continue unchanged. However, a ruling in favor of the Justice Department could result in sanctions ranging from fines to structural reforms within the company.

Closing arguments are anticipated to conclude on Friday, possibly accompanied by the unsealing of previously classified documents, potentially revealing further evidence. Both the Justice Department and Google are expected to recapitulate key points from the trial and address any queries posed by the judge, as reported by the New York Times.

Source: NY Times