Final arguments in the conclusion of the Google antitrust trial, setting of the reference sentence

A landmark antitrust trial against Google ended Friday after a federal judge heard closing arguments, setting the stage for a ruling that could fundamentally shift the power of the tech industry.

“The importance and significance of this case is not lost on me, not only to Google but to the public,” Judge Amit P. Mehta said in the final moments of the proceedings Friday. He thanked the lawyers who discussed the case and then added: “I imagine you have passed the baton to us.”

Now he must decide the case in which the Justice Department and state attorneys general say Google abused its monopoly on the search business, stifling competitors and limiting innovation, which the company denies.

During two days of closing arguments, Judge Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia did not reveal how he planned to rule. He questioned both sides, often referring to testimony and evidence from last year's 10-week trial to poke holes in their arguments. He also asked them to explain how their positions fit with key legal precedents.

At the close of proceedings Friday, Kenneth Dintzer, the Justice Department's top lawyer, argued that if antitrust laws “fail to unfreeze” a Google-dominated search business, the company's practices will continue into the future.

John E. Schmidtlein, Google's lead lawyer, countered that a ruling in the government's favor “would be an unprecedented move to punish a company that wins on the merits.”

Judge Mehta's ruling in the coming weeks or months will likely influence the course of other government antitrust lawsuits against Apple, Amazon and Meta, the owner of Instagram and WhatsApp, as U.S. regulators seek to rein in their power.

The government alleges that Google has illegally solidified a search monopoly by paying Apple and other technology partners billions of dollars to include the Google search engine in their products.

Discussion Friday focused on the government's second claim that the company also has a monopoly on ads running in search results.

Google has pointed to other companies that compete in search and advertising.

“Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Amazon — all of these companies have very, very detailed, very useful information that allows them to give advertisers tons of different options to reach the consumer groups that they're most interested in,” Schmidtlein argued.

Judge Mehta asked the Justice Department to explain why the search ads were so different from ads on Facebook and other social platforms.

“How does this compare to reality?” she asked. “It can't be that Facebook's advertising platform is an inferior product and they're making billions of dollars.”

Judge Mehta also mentioned the success of TikTok, which he said had a “pretty good advertising platform” and was growing. He said he spent some time using TikTok search to investigate the case.

In an apparent nod to national security concerns about that app, he added: “Not that I have it on my phone, just to be clear.”

The government also said the judge should sanction Google over a company policy that automatically disables workplace chat history, arguing that the policy resulted in the destruction of evidence. Dintzer said the court must “say this is wrong” to prevent Google from hiding the evidence in the future. A lawyer for Google, Colette T. Connor, denied that the company did anything inappropriate.

“Let me be perfectly frank,” Justice Mehta said. “Google's document retention policy leaves a lot to be desired.”

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