Google settles allegations of digital advertising dominance in US, avoids jury trial

The lawsuit aims to break up Google’s digital advertising business for more competition.

Google building

Alphabet’s Google will avoid a jury trial over allegations of digital advertising dominance after paying $2.3 million to settle the US government’s monetary damages claim. The payment means the case, involving non-monetary demands, will be heard directly by a judge. Initially, the Justice Department and several states had sued Google, accusing it of monopolising digital advertising and overcharging users, seeking primarily to break up its advertising business.

US District Judge Leonie Brinkema scheduled the non-jury trial for 9 September, where she will directly hear arguments and decide the case. Google criticised the Justice Department’s damages claim as contrived, denying any wrongdoing and not admitting liability by making the payment. A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

The Justice Department initially claimed more than $100 million in damages but later reduced the demand to less than $1 million. Google’s $2.3 million payment covers the interest and potential tripling of damages under US antitrust law. Google accused the government of inflating its damages claim to secure a jury trial, while the government contended that Google has worked to keep its anticompetitive conduct hidden from public scrutiny.