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Google Will Get Judge’s Hearing in AdTech Antitrust Trial

Google parent Alphabet’s trial on antitrust charges around its advertising technology will be decided by a judge rather than a jury.

Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled Friday (June 7) after Alphabet paid the federal government an amount covering the damages eight federal government agencies alleged that they suffered because of Google’s actions — $2.3 million, Bloomberg reported Friday.

According to the report, Brinkema said that Alphabet’s check satisfies any damage claims, that a jury is no longer needed, and that the trial will begin in September.

The Justice Department sued Google in 2023, alleging that the company has a monopoly on online advertising technology, that the government was overcharged for ads it bought online between 2019 and 2023, and that the fees Google collected would have been lower if it hadn’t had a monopoly on the technology, the report said.

Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels told Bloomberg: “As we’ve said, this case is a meritless attempt to pick winners and losers in a highly competitive industry that has contributed to overwhelming economic growth for businesses of all sizes. We look forward to making our case in court.”

The company preemptively paid damages to the government in May in hopes of avoiding a jury trial in the antitrust lawsuit.

In April, Google accused the federal government of fabricating a market for its antitrust suit, said the Justice Department still had not shown that the company commanded a 70% share of the online advertising market and asked the judge to dismiss the suit.

When the Justice Department filed the lawsuit in September 2023, it said Google had illegally seized control of the online ad sector and said the solution is for a court to order the break-up of the digital search giant.

“Having inserted itself into all aspects of the digital advertising marketplace, Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary and unlawful means to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies,” the department said in the suit.

Google said at the time that it was facing increased ad competition from other Big Tech players and that the Justice Department was asking it to divest itself of acquisitions the department itself — along with other regulators — had approved.