Tuesday, January 24, 2023

DOJ and eight state AGs file antitrust lawsuit against Google, demanding divestiture of key ad tech assets

The United States Department of Justice has done today what media reports indicated yesterday: the DOJ, together with the attorneys general (AGs) of eight states (in alphabetical order: California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia) filed an antitrust lawsuit over Google's ad tech. The key remedy sought by the governmental plaintiffs is this:

"Order the divestiture of, at minimum, the Google Ad Manager suite, including both Google’s publisher ad server, DFP, and Google’s ad exchange, AdX, along with any additional structural relief as needed to cure any anticompetitive harm"

At this stage, I just wanted to share the complaint, but it will take me some time to form an opinion. I've heard a lot of negative things about the ad tech sector in general, and an ongoing EU antitrust investigation into Google's ad tech may give rise to a Statement of Objections this year, but to pursue a break-up as a remedy is extremely--or in some people's opinion, exceedingly--ambitious.

The new complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia (which is well-known in the patent litigation community for its "rocket docket"), while the 2020 United States et al. v. Google case over Google's search engine practices is pending in the District of Columbia.

United States et al. v. Google ad tech complaint (case no. 1:23-cv-108, E.D. Va.)