Google And Apple Urge Judge To Toss 'Outlandish' Antitrust Lawsuit

Google and Apple are urging a federal judge to dismiss an "outlandish" antitrust lawsuit stemming from Google's longstanding status as the default search option in Apple's Safari browser.

The companies write in papers filed Tuesday that their search deal “has been public knowledge for over 15 years,” and doesn't reflect an anti-competitive conspiracy.

“The pre-set default search engine, like other search engines integrated into Safari, has, of course, been visible to anyone using the Safari web browser on an Apple device in the United States, and the fact that Google has made payments to Apple under the agreement has been widely reported,” the companies write in a motion filed with U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam, Jr. in the Northern District of California. "Stripped of its repetitive conclusory assertions of conspiracy, the complaint contains nothing more than a recitation of benign, public facts that do not show an unlawful conspiracy as a matter of law." 

The companies' papers come in response to a lawsuit filed late last year by California Crane School, which alleged that Google's status as the default search engine in Safari was part of a conspiracy to avoid competing in the search business. California Crane also alleged that the supposed conspiracy resulted in higher prices for search ads.

Google and Apple counter that the allegations are so implausible that California Crane shouldn't be able to proceed with them.

“Although plaintiff concedes that it does not know when or how the supposed conspiracy started ... it claims without any factual basis that the agreement was formed and negotiated in clandestine meetings between senior executives of Apple and Google,” the companies write. “But the complaint offers not a single fact -- a supposed statement by a witness, a document that memorializes the agreement, or any other direct evidence -- to support its outlandish assertions.”

The companies add that California Crane lacks a basis for its allegation that the search deal led to higher ad prices -- a claim Google and Apple characterize as “premised upon layers of speculation unsupported by any factual allegations,” the two companies write.

They write that the school's theory assumes that had Google not been the default Safari search engine, Apple would have launched its own search engine, monetized it with pay-per-click ads and obtained enough market share to have affected Google's pricing.

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