The government’s case is not that Google violated the law in becoming a search giant. Instead, the government claims that after Google became dominant, the company broke the law with its tactics to defend its monopoly. Contracts with industry partners to be their default search engine were the weapon — exclusive deals that froze out rivals, the government claims. So Google is now protected from competition behind a fortress built with data.
Google replies that the government’s case is an artifice of misleading theory unsupported by the facts. The government has chosen to “ignore inescapable truths,” John Schmidtlein, Google’s lead lawyer, asserted in his opening statement.
Those truths, according to Google, are that the company holds its leading position in search because of its technical innovation. It competes with others for default-placement contracts and wins mainly because Google is the best search engine. Those contracts, Google argues, help reduce prices for smartphones and benefit consumers.
The government, Google insists, is overstating the importance of data. In a brief filed this month, the company stated, “Google does not deny that user data can improve search quality, but Google will show that there are diminishing returns to scale.”
The trial resumes this week with the Justice Department continuing to present its case. The first witness scheduled to testify on Monday is Brian Higgins, an executive at Verizon who oversees mobile device and customer marketing. The trial is scheduled to run for 10 weeks. A ruling from Judge Amit P. Mehta will come next year.