Prosecutors Failed To Prove Google Illegally Monopolized Search, Company Argues

Federal and state prosecutors failed to prove that Google violated antitrust laws by arranging to serve as the default search engine on browsers developed by Apple and Mozilla, and on Android mobile devices, the company contends in new court papers.

“Punishing a successful firm that has out-innovated its competitors to the benefit of consumers harms competition, not the other way around,” the company argued in a 123-page post-trial brief filed with U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta in Washington, D.C. The brief, filed under seal earlier this month, was made available on Friday, but with some passages blacked out.

“When Google has succeeded in the competition to be the default in a particular browser, it has done so by offering the best product at the best price,” Google adds.

Mehta presided over a trial last year in which prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of states attempted to prove that Google violated anti-monopoly laws.



One of the antitrust enforcers' major contentions in the case was that Google obtained dominance in search by contracting to be the default search engine in Mozilla's Firefox browser and Apple's Safari browser, and to have its search engine pre-installed on Android smartphones.

Prosecutors reiterated that argument in their post-trial brief, also made available Friday.

“Google pays billions of dollars to guarantee it is the exclusive out-of-the-box default search engine across nearly all search access points -- particularly on mobile phones,” the prosecutors argue in their 108-page filing. “Google therefore denies rivals access to the most important distribution channels for general search engines.... Without access to those distribution channels, rivals cannot achieve the scale necessary to compete effectively with Google.”

Prosecutors also argued that Google's payments to Apple “incentivize Apple to not enter the relevant markets.”

The prosecutors cited testimony from Apple's Eduardo Cue, who negotiated the search deal with Google, that Apple would have developed its own search engine if Google hadn't paid the company for default status in Safari.

Google argues its deals with Apple and Mozilla reflect the quality of Google's search engine.

“The evidence at trial demonstrated that Microsoft has for many years pitched Apple to make Bing the default search engine instead of Google for the Safari browser,” Google writes.

“In each instance, Apple took a hard look at the relative quality of Bing versus Google and concluded that Google was the superior default choice for its Safari users. That is competition,” the company adds.

Google also notes that Mozilla, which began using Google as the default search for the Firefox browser in 2004, changed the default to Yahoo from 2014, but reverted to Google in 2017.

“During the years Yahoo was the default search engine, Mozilla observed a decline in both (1) usage of the default search functionality in Firefox and (2) the number of users of the Firefox browser,” Google writes.

“Mozilla’s preference for Google as the default search engine and its view about the importance of having competition among search providers for the Firefox default could not be more clear,” Google argues. “Mozilla advised the Department of Justice, in a letter sent weeks before this lawsuit was filed, that it would be significantly harmed in its ability to compete were it not permitted to enter into a default search agreement with Google, because Google provides the best user experience and is preferred by Firefox users.”

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