Former Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt criticized the government’s antitrust lawsuit against the search giant as misguided and unduly influenced by politics, as antitrust experts said the Justice Department and the company each face pitfalls as they head toward litigation.
The fierceness of the battle ahead came into focus Wednesday when Mr. Schmidt offered a full-throated defense of Google.
“There’s a difference between dominance and excellence,” Mr. Schmidt said.
Antitrust observers said the Justice Department could face several challenges as it heads into a court fight, including building a landmark case around an intangible product like internet search and explaining why Google’s alleged conduct is harmful when it gives away its services for free. The department, they said, also faces hard-to-answer questions about what a court could do to remedy an anticompetitive marketplace if the government proves one exists.
“All antitrust cases are difficult to win,” said Gene Kimmelman, a former Justice Department antitrust official and now senior adviser to Public Knowledge, a public-interest group that has advocated for strong antitrust enforcement in the tech sector. “Here it’s particularly tricky because you don’t have a classic price fight or market control of physical assets that people can see and touch.”