Monday, June 24, 2024

Google settles antitrust lawsuit with US government to avoid jury trial by paying damages

Google preemptively pays damages to U.S. government, seeks to avoid jury trial in antitrust lawsuit.

Google has taken a bold and unusual step in its ongoing legal battle with the U.S. government, preemptively paying damages in a move to avoid a jury trial in the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit over its digital advertising business. The tech giant made the payment to cover alleged overcharges for online ads, but the exact amount has not been disclosed.

In a court filing last week, Google argued that without a monetary damages claim, the government has no right to a jury trial and the case should be heard and decided by a judge directly. The Justice Department, which has not indicated whether it will accept the payment, has refrained from commenting on the filing.

The lawsuit, filed last year with Virginia and other states, accuses Google of stifling competition for advertising technology and calls for the company to sell its ad manager suite. Google has denied the allegations, stating that the Justice Department “manufactured a damages claim at the last minute” to secure a jury trial.

Legal scholars have weighed in on Google’s strategy, with some expressing skepticism that it will succeed. Stanford Law School’s Mark Lemley believes that a jury could ultimately award higher damages than what Google has put forward, while Herbert Hovenkamp of the University of Pennsylvania’s law school called Google’s move “smart” in avoiding a technical case being decided by a jury.

The Justice Department will have the opportunity to respond to Google’s arguments before a judge considers the question at a hearing in June. The trial is currently scheduled for September, before a jury, but Google’s preemptive payment could potentially change the course of the proceedings.

This latest development adds to Google’s legal woes, as the company has recently faced antitrust trials, with mixed outcomes. While a jury ruled in favor of Epic Games in a case involving Android app stores, a separate case alleging unlawful competition in web search is still pending a ruling in Washington, D.C.

The legal saga between Google and the U.S. government is far from over, with both sides gearing up for what promises to be a high-stakes legal battle. The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for the tech industry and future antitrust actions. Stay tuned for updates as the story unfolds.

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