The government’s antitrust case against Google just got significantly smaller. In a filing on Friday, a US district court judge dismissed several of the claims that the Department of Justice and a coalition of states brought against the company, including allegations that Google Search harms competing services.
The decision stems from a pair of lawsuits that the DOJ and a group of 38 state attorneys general filed against Google in 2020. While the DOJ and states originally filed separately, the suit has since become mostly consolidated. The suit accuses Google of anti-competitive behavior on a number of fronts, including designing its search engine to disadvantage competitors like Yelp, Expedia, and Tripadvisor.
However, Judge Amit Mehta threw out this claim, stating that the government’s proof of anti-competitive harm “relies not on evidence but almost entirely on the opinion and speculation of its expert” that it cited in its suit, law professor Jonathan Baker. Mehta also dropped the DOJ’s accusations related to the agreements Google makes with developers and Android phone makers because the government abandoned the allegations.
Some key arguments still remain standing
“We appreciate the Court’s careful consideration and decision to dismiss claims regarding the design of Google Search,” Kent Walker, Google’s president of global affairs and chief legal officer, says in a statement. “People have more ways than ever to access information, and they choose to use Google because it’s helpful. We look forward to showing at trial that promoting and distributing our services is both legal and pro-competitive.”
Despite this, some key arguments still remain standing. For example, Judge Mehta didn’t dismiss the government’s allegations that Google violated antitrust policies by making Google the default search engine on mobile browsers. We’ll have to see how this all plays out in court once the trial begins on September 12th.