Timeline on Monopoly Lawsuit Regarding Digital Advertising Market

The Justice Department, along with the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia, is suing Google for violating federal antitrust laws by monopolizing the digital advertising market.

The lawsuit, which accuses Google of a “systematic campaign to seize control” of online advertising, says the tech giant spent billions buying up tools relied on by publishers and advertisers in the digital advertising market. According to the suit, Google forces market participants to use its products – including its monopolistic advertising exchange, AdX – and exploits its dominance to crush new market entrants that might pose a competitive threat. The suit adds that Google abuses its market power to hurt publishers and advertisers who try to use competing advertising products, and that the firm lines its pockets at the expense of advertisers and publishers by routing as many transactions as possible to its own products.

The DOJ says Google’s 2008 purchase of dominant ad server DoubleClick “vaulted Google into a commanding position” in the online ad market, which it entrenched by tying its digital advertising products together, raising switching costs for users, and making further acquisitions. As a result, according to the suit, Google now claims at least thirty cents of every dollar spent on online advertising, increasing costs for advertisers and cutting revenue for publishers.

The DOJ and the States ask the court to break up Google’s online advertising business by ordering Google to divest its Ad Manager suite, including its Doubleclick ad server and AdX ad exchange, and order other structural relief as needed. Additionally, since the DOJ is making monetary claims on behalf of the U.S. government in its capacity as an advertiser, the suit demands a jury trial.

DOJ Adtech Suit

January 24

DOJ Files Suit

The DOJ, along with along with the Attorneys General of 8 states, files a civil antitrust suit in the Eastern District of Virginia against Google for monopolizing the digital advertising market in violation of the Sherman Act.

March 10

Court Denies Google’s Transfer Motion

Google’s motion to transfer the case to New York, where discovery will not end until mid-2024, is denied.

March 24

Court Sets Schedule

In a scheduling order, a US Magistrate judge in Alexandria sets a timeline for discovery and other deadlines, that has pretrial work concluding by January 2024, with a pretrial conference set for January 18, 2024 and a trial date as soon as March 2024.

March 27

Google Asks Court to Dismiss

Google asks a federal judge to toss out the DOJ’s suit, saying that it undersells Google’s competition against major adtech industry rivals and doesn’t make an adequate case that Google’s adtech business is a monopoly.

April 17

Nine More States Sign On to DOJ Suit

The Attorneys General of nine U.S. states – Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Washington and West Virginia – join the DOJ’s suit.

April 28

Court Doesn’t Dismiss

The Court refused to toss the DOJ’s ad-tech antitrust case against Google, finding that the allegations have enough merit and detail to proceed.

September 8

Fact Discovery Ends

Discovery, the process by which both sides of a lawsuit request information and documents from each other and question witnesses under oath about evidence that will be used at trial, closes.

January 12

Expert Discovery Concludes

Close of expert discovery, several weeks after final expert reports are filed. Expert discovery is the period of time when parties exchange expert reports and depose each other’s expert their opinions. In antitrust cases, expert reports usually relate to the economic impact of the defendant’s anti-competitive conduct. This can often take several months.

January 18

Pretrial Conference

US District Judge Leonie Brinkema holds a hearing to set the trial date which may be as soon as March 2024.