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Judge allows Google antitrust case to move forward in Virginia


FALLS CHURCH, Virginia — A judge has denied a request by Google to transfer a federal antitrust lawsuit against it from Virginia to New York.

Friday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria, Va., is a victory for the Justice Department and several states, including Virginia, which sued Google earlier this year and wanted to keep the case in the commonwealth.

The lawsuit alleges that Google has a virtual monopoly on online advertising that comes at the expense of consumers. The complaint alleged that Google “corrupted legitimate competition in the ad-tech industry by engaging in a systematic campaign to take control of the vast array of high-tech tools used by publishers, advertisers, and brokers. , to facilitate digital advertising”.

Google said similar lawsuits, including one filed by the Texas attorney general, have been consolidated into a single case that is currently being heard in New York. Google lawyers said consolidating the Virginia case would also improve judicial efficiency and reduce the risk of courts producing conflicting decisions.

Justice Department attorneys, however, argued that the case should remain in Virginia. They said federal antitrust cases are exempt from the law that encourages the consolidation of similar lawsuits filed in multiple jurisdictions. They also argued that their lawsuit would be bogged down if it was consolidated with all of the consolidated cases.

The lawsuit seeks to force Google to divest itself of the business of controlling the technical tools that manage the buying, selling and auctioning of digital advertising, sticking with search – its core business – and other products and services, including YouTube, Gmail and cloud services. .

Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, previously said the lawsuit “doubles as a flawed argument that would slow innovation, increase advertising costs and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow.” “.

Digital ads currently make up around 80% of Google’s revenue and overall support its other less lucrative businesses.

Besides Virginia, California, Connecticut, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee have all joined the Justice Department as plaintiffs in the case.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.