Google offers DoJ cash to eliminate jury in web ad monopoly abuse trial

Nyah, nyah: You can't sue for damages if we just meet your demands

Facing an antitrust jury trial over claims it monopolizes online advertising, Google has chosen to do the most logical thing it can think of to avoid the case being heard by a jury: It's cut a check to the US Justice Department to get prosecutors to strike their damages claim.

According to a federal court filing [PDF] in Virginia last week, Google said it has offered the DoJ a check for an unspecified sum that covers "the full monetary damages it seeks."

By doing so, Google said it has solved the DoJ's claims for damages, and thus Uncle Sam's reason for asking for a jury trial. 

"DOJ manufactured a damages claim at the last minute in an attempt to secure a jury trial in a case even they describe as 'highly technical' and 'outside the everyday knowledge of most prospective jurors,'" Google told The Register in a statement. "That's why the law warrants a judicial review of the evidence in this case." 

Far from being a settlement offer, Google continues to assert its innocence against charges it abuses a monopoly position in the online advertising market, claiming it looks forward to defending its operations and strategies in court - just not before a jury. 

Google's advertising monopoly case - one of multiple antitrust cases against the web giant - was filed in early 2023, and within months the list of state plaintiffs grew to 17, not including the DoJ itself. The original complaint accused Google of acquiring competitors, forcing publishers and advertisers into using its tools, and manipulating ad space auctions, all to "eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies," the DoJ alleged. 

It's not clear how much Google has offered to the DoJ, but the Chocolate Factory did assert in its court filing that the DoJ's damages case "has fallen well short of its original description." According to Google, the DoJ originally claimed damages in excess of $100 million for ads placed by "certain federal agencies."

Despite those $100M claims, Google said discovery has gradually eroded the amount. While it doesn't claim such directly in its filing (at least not in unredacted portions), a Google spokesperson told us that the DoJ's claim for damages has been reduced to less than a million dollars, equating to less than the cloud titan spent to hire experts in the case, Google claims. 

The Justice Department, which we've invited to comment for this story, will have the chance to refute Google's claims on June 21 at the next hearing date for the case. If Google's attempt to buy its way out is unsuccessful, it's set to go to trial in September. 

Google is also facing an antitrust suit involving its alleged monopolization of online search, for which arguments recently concluded in a Washington, DC court. 

There's no jury in the search monopoly case, and Google did lose an antitrust case before a jury late last year when a group of Google peers determined the Play Store maintained an illegal monopoly by requiring developers to pay fees to use third-party payment services. ®

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