The ongoing US v. Google antitrust trial faced additional restrictions recently when Judge Amit Mehta addressed a complaint from Google. The complaint revolved around the Department of Justice’s practice of posting trial exhibits online without prior notification to the judge. These documents are essentially public in nature, as they were presented in court and are expected to become part of the public record, a fact acknowledged by Judge Mehta.
In contrast to the recent FTC v. Microsoft case, there’s no indication of redactions gone wrong that might reveal sensational details about a company. However, there have been disputes between the involved parties over exhibits that Google considers irrelevant.
Bloomberg’s Leah Nylen, who advocated for access to these documents during the court proceedings, has provided a comprehensive account of what transpired on Tuesday and what didn’t happen – specifically, a ruling on the future of these documents, as promised by Judge Mehta on Wednesday. This situation is part of a broader trend of limiting public visibility into the US v. Google case, which holds significant implications for the future of Google’s dominant position in the search industry.
Notably, a substantial portion of yesterday’s trial testimony occurred behind closed doors, excluding both reporters and the general public from the courtroom. Google has chosen not to comment on the record regarding the removal of these documents when approached by The TI, and the Justice Department has not responded to requests for comment.
The information we’ve gathered so far paints a compelling picture of Google’s dominant position in the search market and its cautious approach to acknowledging this dominance. This caution even extended to admonishing executives for using terms like “market share.” Furthermore, there were insights into Google’s strategy, such as quietly increasing search ad prices to meet revenue targets, even to the extent of metaphorically “shaking the cushions.”
The online exhibits presented during the trial reinforced these points. They included email threads and presentations in which Google executives acknowledged that the company’s extensive scale significantly improved its service quality. Additionally, the exhibits highlighted the power of default deals, which the Department of Justice has alleged were struck anticompetitively with both Apple and phone companies.
While we’re hopeful that the documents will be reinstated, there has been a frustrating delay in achieving this since Tuesday. Nonetheless, we have managed to access the documents through Bloomberg, the Wayback Machine.
- Email from Hal Varian (Google) to David Stallibrass (Fingleton) Re: passing along ad prices (September 9th, 2020)
- Email from Jim Kolotouros (Google) to Christopher Li (Google) Re: Google search powering in-app search on device (June 10th, 2020)
- Google Presentation: Search Ads 101 (April 17th, 2020)
- Email from Jerry Dischler (Google) to Anil Sabharwal (Google) Re: Important SQV Update (May 3rd, 2019)
- Google Presentation – Search Entry Points on Android (September 28th, 2016)
- Email from Jerry Dischler (Google) to Sridhar Ramaswamy (Google) Re: Internet – Takeaways From Large NA Search Agency Check (April 21st, 2016)
- Email from Tim Carter (Google) to Chris Barton (Google) Re: Platforms (April 28th, 2011)
- Google Presentation – Antitrust Basics for Search Team (March 2011)
- Analysis of Bing Mobile Browse on RIM (2010)
- Email from Hal Varian (Google) to Penny Chu (Google) Re: Latest market share analysis (October 9th, 2009)
- Email from Udi Manber (Google) to Hal Varian (Google) Re: scale (August 26th, 2009)
- Email from Hal Varian (Google) to Dana Wagner (Google) Re: Fwd: Time Mag article on Bing (August 26th, 2009)
- Google Presentation: On Strategic Value of Browser Home Page to Google (April 2nd, 2007)
- Google presentation: On Strategic Value of Default Home Page to Google (March 27th, 2007)