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Google’s $2.3 million check secures bench trial in adtech antitrust case

Google has successfully maneuvered to have its adtech antitrust case heard by a judge rather than a jury, potentially reducing unpredictability in the high-stakes lawsuit.

Driving the news. Google submitted a $2.3 million cashier’s check to cover potential damages, effectively removing the monetary aspect of the case and securing a bench trial.

The case, brought by the Justice Department and eight states, is now set for a bench trial on Sept. 9.

The lawsuit seeks to break up Google’s online advertising business.

Why we care. This update in the antitrust lawsuit represents a significant step in a case that could reshape one of the world’s most influential companies and the digital advertising landscape as a whole. With it being a bench trial as well, advertisers will unlikely have to wait as long as if it were a jury trial therefore seeing the effects of the decision a lot quicker, if any at all.

Why it matters. This is a setback for the Justice Department, which had pushed for a jury trial in this first antitrust suit against a Big Tech company brought by the Biden administration.

Between the lines. Google argued that antitrust laws don’t prevent companies from refusing to deal with rivals and that the government hadn’t proven its market dominance.

The judge also blocked a former FBI agent, who had consulted for Google on cybersecurity, from testifying as an expert for the company.

Background. Here’s how we ended up here:

Google preemptively paid damages to the U.S. government, Reuters reported on May 20.

A judge decided that Google’s fate would be decided by a judge rather than a jury, the AP and others reported on June 7.

What’s next. The trial begins on Sept. 9, with significant implications for Google’s advertising technology business.

The bottom line. This case is part of a broader legal landscape for Google, including:

The U.S. vs. Google antitrust trial, in which Google is accused of using underhanded tactics to ensure it stays the world’s leading search engine.

A separate trial in the UK where online publishers seek up to £13.6bn in damages.

An ongoing competition lawsuit in D.C. over its search engine business.
 

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