According to reports, on Monday, Google filed its first formal defense in an antitrust lawsuit against the US Department of Justice. In the court document, Google stated that the company did not use its multi-billion-dollar deals with other large technology companies to protect its online search engine’s dominance in the market.
The court document is 42 pages long, paragraph by paragraph (sometimes even sentence by sentence) refuting the allegations of the government and the states participating in the litigation. In the document, Google said that it “developed, innovated and improved” its search products as part of the company’s mission to “organize global information and make it universally available and useful.”
Google has repeatedly emphasized: “People use Google search because it is their own choice, not a forced choice or it is difficult for them to find other alternative ways to search for information on the Internet.”
This document is the most important document that Google has filed in response to the Ministry of Justice’s antitrust lawsuit so far, but it will not be the last document.
Also on Monday, the U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta who heard the case approved the order allowing evidence collection and set the trial date on September 12, 2023.
Google is facing more and more lawsuits in the United States. The attorneys general of Texas and other states claimed in a lawsuit last week that Google violated the law in acquiring and protecting the monopoly of Internet advertising technology.
A day later, the states led by Colorado and Nebraska also launched their own lawsuits, focusing on Google’s search business. They also applied to merge their lawsuit with that of the Ministry of Justice.
These lawsuits represent increasingly severe legal supervision to curb the monopoly of technology giants in the fields of commerce, communications, and culture. The Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of 40 states also launched a lawsuit against Facebook this month, accusing the social media giant of stifling competition by acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp. If this lawsuit wins, Facebook may face the risk of being split. Federal and state officials are also investigating Amazon and Apple.
In its case against Google, the Department of Justice stated that Google used its agreements with device manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, and LG to ensure that its search engine is the default search engine on the devices of these manufacturers. The prosecutor said that this leading position is very strong, effectively preventing the development and growth of competitors such as DuckDuckGo and other search products. When the lawsuit was filed, 11 state attorneys general signed to join the lawsuit. Other states are also applying to join, including California.
Google insists that its behavior of buying default settings on mobile devices is tantamount to the behavior of consumer brands buying on the front shelves of a grocery store. Google also argued that users of Apple and Android smartphones can easily switch between Google’s search service and other competitors’ search services.
In Monday’s document, Google did acknowledge some of the government’s rhetoric. Google said that indeed, some dictionaries classify “Google” as a verb. Google also admitted that “22 years, Google was established in a garage in Menlo Park, and Google created an innovative Internet search method.”
Although Google also admitted that its parent company Alphabet has a market value of approximately US$1 trillion, the company denies the allegation that Google has a “market value of approximately US$1 trillion”.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.