Google hits back in US search antitrust lawsuit, says doesn’t block rivals

San Francisco : Google has hit back at a US government anti-trust lawsuit over its search engine, saying its search deals — including agreements with Mozilla and Apple — don’t prevent users from trying other search platforms.

The US Department of Justice and a coalition of state attorneys general had sued Google in 2020 under the Donald Trump administration. The complaint alleged that Google used its “incumbent power” and its Android operating system to lock up the search market, denying competitors “vital distribution, scale, and product recognition”.

Google said in its filing that “no evidence suggests that Google coerced Apple, Mozilla, or any other browser developer into adopting a design that includes a single default search engine”.

The tech giant also argued that its contracts with Android phone makers don’t constitute exclusive deals. The lawsuit against Google had contended that the company harmed competition by entering revenue share agreements with web browser developers that provide that Google will be the pre-set default general search engine on their browsers.

“Plaintiffs also contend that Google has harmed competition through three sets of agreements with companies that manufacture and/or sell Android devices,” said the Google filing.

Android is a mobile operating system, licensed open source, in which Google has invested billions of dollars since its release in the fall of 2008. Google said although ITS agreements with browser developers are individually negotiated and differ in some respects, they have three important commonalities.

“First, the agreements have never prevented companies such as Apple and Mozilla from promoting other search engines in their browsers, and those companies have in fact agreed to promote Bing, DuckDuckGo, and other search services,” argued the company.

Second, Apple and Mozilla, not Google, designed their browsers to each include an integrated search box with a default search engine upon first use, and they continue to believe that design enables the best user experience.

“Third, Apple and Mozilla decided to set Google as the default search engine in their browsers because they believe it provides the highest quality experience for their customers,” said Google.

In September last year, a US court allowed a larger antitrust case against Google to proceed that alleged that the tech giant monopolised the ad-tech market and suppressed competition by its access to data.

The Attorneys General of 10 US states brought an action in Texas against Google, alleging that Google’s digital advertising practices violate laws of their states.

The judge, however, dismissed claims of collusion between Google and Facebook (now Meta) in the “Jedi Blue” programme, a deal in which Google and Facebook allegedly joined hands for ad auctions.

 

 

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