Initially, the DOJ, along with the attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia, filed a civil lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia alleging the media giant violated Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act. The allegations center on the notion that Google monopolized “multiple digital advertising technology products.”
“We look forward to litigating this important case alongside our state law enforcement partners to end Google’s long-running monopoly in digital advertising technology markets,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Doha Mekki of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division. “Today we welcome the States of Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia who join our existing coalition of eight co-plaintiff states, to deliver the benefits of competition to website publishers, digital advertisers, and the American public.”
The complaint alleges in the last 15 years Google has exhibited persistent exclusionary and anticompetitive tendencies, which include eliminating or neutralizing advertising competitors through acquisition and “thwarting” the use of competing products.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there are three “core” antitrust laws in the U.S. One of them, the Sherman Act, deals with the monopolization of trade, or any attempts or related conspiracies to those ends.
“Long ago, the Supreme Court decided that the Sherman Act does not prohibit every restraint of trade, only those that are unreasonable. For instance, in some sense, an agreement between two individuals to form a partnership restrains trade, but may not do so unreasonably, and thus may be lawful under the antitrust laws,” according to the FTC. “On the other hand, certain acts are considered so harmful to competition that they are almost always illegal. These include plain arrangements among competing individuals or businesses to fix prices, divide markets, or rig bids.”
"Google’s AI PR blitz is all about reinforcing a narrative (repeated here by a Google-funded trade group leader) that the emergence of new consumer AI products makes the DOJ’s antitrust case irrelevant."
Dan Taylor, the vice president of Global Ads for Google said the lawsuit is an unfair attempt to “pick winners and losers” in a highly competitive sector. At the heart of his rebuttal is the failure of a similar case brought in Texas. That case was largely dismissed, Taylor said, due to flaws in the government’s argument that Google’s practices have slowed innovation, spiked ad fees and thwarted the growth of small publishers and businesses.
“DOJ is demanding that we unwind two acquisitions that were reviewed by U.S. regulators 12 years ago (AdMeld) and 15 years ago (DoubleClick),” wrote Taylor. “In seeking to reverse these two acquisitions, DOJ is attempting to rewrite history at the expense of publishers, advertisers and internet users. Both of these acquisitions enabled us to invest heavily in developing new and innovative advertising technologies.”