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Google search trial to move forward with narrowed case

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Aug 4, 2023
Illustration of a hand holding a protest sign with a google search on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A federal antitrust case against Google on its search business will continue, a judge ruled this week, but parts of the case have been thrown out and the tech giant now faces a narrower suit.

Driving the news: In the decision unsealed Friday, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta granted a request from Google for a motion for summary judgement, throwing out portions of claims brought by state attorneys general.

  • Those claims most notably included allegations that Google's treatment of specialized search providers like Yelp and Expedia harmed competition in search and search advertising markets.

Details: "Simply put, there is no record evidence of anticompetitive harm in the relevant markets resulting from Google's treatment of [specialized vertical providers] SVPs," Judge Mehta wrote.

What they're saying: "We appreciate the Court's careful consideration and decision to dismiss claims regarding the design of Google Search," Kent Walker, Google's president of global affairs and chief legal officer, said in a statement.

  • "People have more ways than ever to access information, and they choose to use Google because it's helpful. We look forward to showing at trial that promoting and distributing our services is both legal and pro-competitive."

The other side: Groups that have been rallying against Google and calling for the company to be broken up are still taking the fact that the trial is continuing as a win.

  • "Up against the largest corporation in the world and in history — one caught defying court orders to destroy evidence throughout discovery — the U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of state attorneys general prevailed against Google today," Katherine Van Dyck, senior counsel at the American Economic Liberties Project, said in a release.

Flashback: The suit was filed at the end of the Trump administration in October 2020 and has continued under President Biden.

  • State attorneys general have been pursuing a parallel suit, and the claims were combined before Judge Mehta.

What's next: The trial is expected to begin Sept. 12.

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