Google and Apple are fierce competitors. However, when someone browses on their iPhone or Mac with Apple’s Safari browser and performs a search, they end up in Google’s results by default, under a multibillion-dollar deal between the two giants.
Such deals will be scrutinized in the biggest monopoly trial of the Internet age. The U.S. Justice Department accuses Google of abusing its dominant position in search services. The company believes it is being punished for its success. A federal judge in Washington will decide.
Google under indictment
Google, part of Alphabet, is a company of programmers, engineers and marketers. But this is also a time for lawyers, internal and external. The company has just reached an agreement in principle to avoid a lawsuit over monopolistic practices in the Android app store.
It is involved in another lawsuit for alleged abuse of dominance in the digital advertising market. And now faces a lawsuit over search services. The consequences of which are unpredictable and could serve as precedent in other lawsuits against Internet giants.
Is the Google trial a landmark case or not?
Whether the trial that begins Tuesday against Google makes it onto the list of landmark cases will depend largely on the outcome of the case.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit seeks a declaration that Google acted illegally. An order that the company cease its alleged abuse of dominance, and structural measures to remedy any anticompetitive harm.
It also asks for “any other preliminary or permanent measures necessary and appropriate to restore competitive conditions in the markets affected by Google’s unlawful conduct,” and any other decision the court deems appropriate.
The lawsuit filed during the Trump presidency
The lawsuit was filed in October 2020, under the presidency of Donald Trump, and several Republican states joined it from the beginning. The case was then consolidated with lawsuits from other states.
In three years, about 150 witnesses have been heard and the case has exceeded five million pages. Last month, Google managed to have some of the charges dismissed. Namely, those related to its management of the Android operating system, its dealings with cell phone manufacturers that use it. And its promotion of the search engine in the Google Assistant itself. But the essence of the case remains.
Fines from EU Antitrust
In the European Union, Google has received the three highest fines in history. A year ago, judges upheld the record fine of 4.125 billion imposed on the company for anticompetitive practices in search services. This was a case similar to the one that will now be tried in Washington, but focused on the Android operating system.
In November 2021, the Commission also ratified another 2.4 billion for favoring its products in search (this part was excluded from the ongoing litigation). Moreover, the Commission imposed another fine of nearly 1.5 billion in March 2019 for its abuses in the digital advertising market. In total, more than 8 billion.