WASHINGTON, Aug 4 (Reuters) -
A U.S. judge hearing the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit accusing Google of unlawfully maintaining monopolies in the internet search market let stand key claims made by the federal government.
Google had asked for summary judgment on all the government's claims in the case, which is to go to trial next month.
U.S. Judge Amit Mehta in Washington in a decision made public on Friday granted Google's request on some grounds but allowed the remainder of the claims to proceed to trial next month.
The Justice Department sued Google in 2020, accusing the $1.6 trillion company of illegally using its market muscle to hobble rivals in the biggest challenge to the power and influence of Big Tech since it sued Microsoft Corp in 1998.
Mehta is also hearing a case brought against Google by the attorneys general of 38 states and territories.
Google said Friday it appreciated the court's "careful consideration and decision to dismiss claims regarding the design of Google Search" in the case brought by the state attorneys general.
"We look forward to showing at trial that promoting and distributing our services is both legal and pro-competitive," Google added.
Google has denied any wrongdoing in both cases.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong praised the decision to allow the states Google search antitrust suit to proceed to trial.
"Google abused its dominance to inflate its own profits at the expense of American businesses and in violation of antitrust laws," Tong said.
Mehta noted Google LLC operates the largest U.S. internet general search engine whose "brand name has become so ubiquitous that dictionaries recognize it as a verb." He noted Google in 2020 had nearly 90% market share and advertisers spend over $80 billion annually alone to reach general search users.
The government, which filed its lawsuit in the waning days of the Trump administration, has argued that Google illegally paid billions of dollars each year to smartphone makers like Apple, LG, Motorola and Samsung, carriers like Verizon and browsers like Mozilla to be the default search for their customers.
Judge Mehta tossed out accusations brought by the states that Google made it harder for internet users to find specialized search engines, like Expedia for travel or OpenTable for restaurants, saying the states "have not demonstrated the requisite anticompetitive effect in the relevant market."
"A company with monopoly power acts unlawfully only when its conduct stifles competition," Mehta wrote.
The Justice Department did not immediately comment.
In late April, a U.S. judge in Virginia denied Google's motion to dismiss a separate Justice Department antitrust case focused on advertising technology, saying the government's case was strong enough to go forward. The government has argued that Google should be forced to sell its ad manager suite.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz and David Shepardson; Editing by Mark Porter and Diane Craft)