Google Must Face Trial In Ad Tech Monopoly Case

court, law

Google loses bid for summary judgement as judge says ‘too many facts in dispute’ as US adtech case heads for September trial

Google has lost a bid to avert a trial in the US government’s antitrust lawsuit over its alleged monopoly in advertising technology after a federal judge on Friday declined its motion for a summary judgement.

US District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema said in denying Google’s motion that there were “way too many facts in dispute”, Bloomberg reported.

Such motions are only approved when a judge deems there is no factual dispute to be decided at trial.

Google had argued the judge should decide in its favour since antitrust laws do not prevent companies from refusing to deal with rivals.

It also said the government hadn’t shown it controlled at least 70 percent of the market for display advertising shown on the web and that it did not qualify as a monopoly.

google Image credit Unsplash
Image credit: Unsplash

Adtech charges

At the same hearing Brinkema agreed to block a former FBI agent who acted as a cybersecurity consultant for Google from testifying as an expert on the company’s behalf.

The Justice Department and coalition of eight states sued Google last year over claims it illegally monopolises digital advertising and overcharges users.

The lawsuit, which goes to trial on 9 September, seeks to break up Google’s online advertising business.

“We look forward to setting the record straight,” Google said in a statement.

A week earlier Brinkema denied the Justice Department’s request for a jury trial after Google sent the government a cheque for $2.3 million (£1.81m), covering the government’s claimed damages in the case.

Bench trial

Non-monetary cases are heard directly by judges in what are known as bench trials and the judge found that Google had resolved the issue of damages with what amounted to a “wheelbarrow of cash”.

As a result Brinkema will decide the case herself.

The Justice Department earlier argued to Brinkema that Google had “fought hard to keep its anticompetitive conduct shielded from public view”.

Google faces a separate trial in the UK in which online publishers are seeking up to £13.6bn in damages over the company’s allegedly anticompetitive adtech practices, following a ruling by the Competition Appeals Tribunal last week.

The company is also in the midst of a competition lawsuit in the District of Columbia over its search engine business, in which a judge has heard closing arguments but has not yet issued a verdict.