Alphabet Inc.’s Google will face a scaled-down antitrust suit over its search business after a federal judge threw out some allegations by state attorneys general.
(Bloomberg) — Alphabet Inc.’s Google will face a scaled-down antitrust suit over its search business after a federal judge threw out some allegations by state attorneys general.
In a ruling unsealed Friday, US District Judge Amit Mehta said the state attorneys general couldn’t show that Google’s search results harmed rivals like Yelp Inc. and Expedia Group Inc.
Mehta left in place allegations by the Justice Department that Google’s contracts with Apple Inc., Mozilla Corp. and smartphone makers to preload its search engine harmed competition.
The states’ allegation on vertical search “relies not on evidence but almost entirely on the opinion and speculation of its expert,” Mehta wrote. “Simply put, there is no record evidence of anticompetitive harm.”
The case, set for trial in Sept. 12, will now focus on the agreements Google made with companies to set its search engine as the default, which the plaintiffs allege kept rivals such as Microsoft Corp.’s Bing and DuckDuckGo from gaining the scale needed to compete with Google.
Mehta said in Friday’s ruling that he needed to see more evidence on how Google’s agreements with browsers and smartphone manufacturers affected the market before he could decide on their legality.
Google reiterated that consumers have choices online about where to go for information.
“We look forward to showing at trial that promoting and distributing our services is both legal and pro-competitive,” Kent Walker, Google’s chief legal officer, said in a statement.
Google sought to throw out the two antitrust cases brought by the Justice Department and state AGs, which were filed separately in 2020. The suits allege that Google’s deals to ensure its search engine is the default on web browsers and mobile devices violate antitrust laws. Mehta is overseeing both lawsuits.
The cases are US v. Google, 20-cv-03010, and Colorado v. Google, 20-cv-03715, US District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
(Updates with Google comment in seventh and eighth paragraphs.)
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