Judge Makes Final Ruling – CASE SHUT DOWN

After sending a $2.3 million check to the U.S. Department of Justice, Google will face a bench trial instead of a jury trial in its high-profile antitrust case.

In January 2023, the U.S. government, along with eight states, sued Google, alleging that the tech giant’s acquisitions had forced advertisers and publishers to use its products, thereby “corrupting legitimate competition in the ad tech industry.” The lawsuit seeks to recover damages for the more than $100 million in advertising that federal agencies have purchased since 2019, estimating that the government overpaid by nearly $750,000.

The lawsuit also accuses Google of illegally monopolizing the market and requests the divestiture of its Google Ad Manager suite.

In a twist that has drawn significant attention, the Department of Justice (DOJ) initially sought a jury trial—a departure from the norm for most antitrust cases, which are typically heard by a judge in a bench trial. The DOJ argued that a jury should determine any damages awarded, given Google’s alleged overcharging of federal agencies for advertising.

However, Google countered that the government had manufactured its monetary damages claim to secure a jury trial. By submitting a $2.3 million damages payment, Google aimed to preemptively cover any potential jury-awarded damages without admitting liability, calling the case a “meritless attempt to pick winners and losers in a highly competitive industry.” Google’s payment included interest and any potential damages a jury might have awarded.

Unsurprisingly, the government was not satisfied with Google’s preemptive payment, arguing that it did not fully compensate for their claimed damages. But on June 8, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled in favor of Google, stating that the $2.3 million cashier’s check was adequate to cover any potential damages a jury might have awarded, effectively nullifying the need for a jury trial.

Judge Brinkema’s decision to move the case to a bench trial, which she will oversee starting in September, underscores the complexity and high stakes of antitrust litigation in the tech industry.

Google’s maneuver to sidestep a jury trial by preemptively paying damages is a masterstroke of legal strategy, illustrating the company’s readiness to fight back against what it perceives as regulatory overreach.

The DOJ’s insistence on a jury trial, ostensibly to ensure a fair assessment of damages, has now been thwarted. This move is bound to ignite debates over the effectiveness and motives of antitrust enforcement against tech giants.

Google’s stance is clear: it views the case as a baseless attack on its business model, framed by an administration determined to rein in Big Tech. By handling this with a calculated payment, Google has set a precedent for how tech companies might navigate similar legal waters in the future.

As the bench trial approaches, all eyes will be on how the judiciary handles the intricacies of ad tech and market competition. The outcome could have far-reaching implications for Google and its competitors, as well as for the broader regulatory landscape governing the tech industry.

In the end, this case highlights the ongoing tug-of-war between regulatory bodies and tech conglomerates, each vying to shape the future of digital commerce and competition.