By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Google parent Alphabet on Wednesday argued that a court should toss out a government antitrust lawsuit against it, saying that agreements it made with Apple and others to make Google the default search engine do not bar smartphone makers from promoting rivals. The statements, which were revealed in a redacted version of a motion filed last month asking the judge to toss out the lawsuit, preview the tech giant’s arguments for a high-stakes court case expected to go to trial in September. If Google loses, it could be forced to spin off key assets.
In December, Google asked Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to throw out both the antitrust case that the Justice Department filed in 2020 along with 11 states as well as a related complaint brought by 35 states led by Colorado.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit, filed by the Trump administration, alleged that Google violated antitrust law in how it maintained dominance in search and search advertising. For example, it pointed to billions of dollars that Google paid annually to Apple, LG Electronics Inc and others to ensure that Google search was the default on their devices.
In its 51-page filing, Google argued that Mehta should throw out the Justice Department case in part because the company’s agreements with Apple and others allow them to promote rivals, like Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
The company also argued that its search engine was popular with browsers and consumers entirely because of its quality, and that it was inappropriate for the government to require Google to refrain from competing to be the default on smartphones.
“Requiring Google not to compete vigorously — or requiring browser developers to alter their product designs and provide a worse experience for their customers — would turn competition law on its head,” the company said in the filing.
The company also argued that there was no evidence that agreements that Google made related to Google Assistant or Internet-of-Things devices hurt competition.
Google faces additional allegations of antitrust violations from dozens of states. The lawsuit filed by Colorado and others, which was also filed in 2020, also alleges that Google illegally limits rivals’ ability to operate its Search Ads 360 tool, used by advertisers to manage online marketing campaigns. It also argues that Google broke antitrust law to hamper rivals, such as travel-oriented websites.
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(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Alexandra Alper and Lisa Shumaker)