Alphabet's Google (GOOGL.O) is seeking to prevent the transfer of its antitrust case from New York to Texas. The tech giant argues that relocating the case could complicate related litigation over its digital advertising practices. This legal battle represents the first major test of a December 2022 federal statute allowing state attorneys general to select antitrust litigation venues.
In 2020, Texas, along with several other states, filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of exploiting its dominance in the digital ad market. Google vehemently denies these allegations, deeming the claims "meritless." The states are seeking damages and even potential divestment of assets.
In 2021, the case was consolidated into the Manhattan multidistrict litigation, where a U.S. court could hear the grievances of advertisers and publishers. This consolidation aimed to streamline the legal process and ensure consistent rulings.
Recently, the federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation allowed Texas to withdraw its case from New York in August, raising questions about the proper jurisdiction for the lawsuit.
During the hearing,Google's lawyer, Jessica Ellsworth, emphasized the importance of centralizing ad tech issues to prevent potential inconsistencies in rulings. She argued that different circuits have distinct legal precedents for deciding crucial evidence and factual concerns.
Further, Texas lawyer Ashley Keller downplayed the potential impact of moving the case back to the Eastern District of Texas, stating that it wouldn't have "far-reaching ramifications." Keller also highlighted that the 2nd Circuit has no other cases challenging the new federal law regarding state antitrust case venue.
This legal battle carries significant implications for Google, as it faces scrutiny from both federal and state antitrust regulators. In Washington, D.C., the company will contend with allegations regarding its dominance in the search market. Additionally, a federal court trial is scheduled in Virginia next year, where the Justice Department and other states will investigate claims of Google's misuse of its advertising technology market advantage.
As Google faces multiple legal challenges, its actions and arguments in this case will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications for the tech industry at large.