Google’s bid to end US antitrust case over digital advertising rejected

The outcome could lead to significant changes in Google’s business practices and has broader implications for regulatory actions against major tech firms.

Google building

Google has lost its bid to dismiss a US government lawsuit accusing it of monopolistic practices in the digital advertising market in an ongoing antitrust scrutiny of major tech companies. The ruling marks a critical juncture in the broader effort to regulate and curtail the market power of tech giants. US District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria, Virginia, denied Google’s motion to dismiss the case during a recent hearing, as documented in court records.

The decision allows the lawsuit, originally filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in January 2023, to proceed. The DOJ alleges that Google has engaged in anti-competitive behavior to maintain its dominance in the digital advertising market, using its position to unfairly disadvantage competitors, violating Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The lawsuit is part of a broader wave of antitrust actions targeting Big Tech, as regulators aim to address concerns over market monopolization and its effects on competition, consumers, and innovation. According to the DOJ, Google has employed various strategies to stifle competition, including acquiring competitors, favoring its own services, and implementing restrictive policies that disadvantage rival ad tech firms.

Last week, Google achieved a notable victory when Judge Brinkema allowed the trial to proceed without a jury, following a settlement of claims that its conduct harmed the US government. Judge Brinkema is scheduled to preside over the trial on September 9. In response to the ruling, a Google spokesperson expressed disappointment, stating that the company strongly disagrees with the DOJ’s claims and plans to vigorously defend itself in court. Google maintains that its digital advertising products benefit publishers and advertisers by providing efficient, effective tools that foster competition.

Why does it matter?

The outcome of this case could have implications for the tech industry, particularly for digital advertising. If the court ultimately rules against Google, it could lead to significant changes in how digital advertising markets operate, potentially requiring Google to divest parts of its advertising business or change its business practices. The case against Google is pivotal to the ongoing debate over the power and influence of tech giants. It reflects increasing regulatory scrutiny and a shift towards more aggressive antitrust enforcement.

The ruling not only impacts Google but also sets a precedent for future actions against other major players in the tech industry. As the case moves forward, it will be closely watched by industry stakeholders, policymakers, and consumers alike, as it holds the potential to reshape the digital advertising ecosystem and redefine the boundaries of acceptable business practices for tech companies.