Timeline on Internet Advertising Monopoly Lawsuit

Led by the State of Texas, a group of U.S. states and territories sued Google in 2020 for illegally monopolizing the digital advertising market. They argue that Google’s dominance in buying, selling, and serving display advertising is anticompetitive and amounts to the firm “acting as the pitcher, catcher, batter and umpire, all at the same time.” The lawsuit alleges that Google has stifled innovation, killed competition, and harmed customers and consumers – and that Google gained its monopoly power through violating federal and state antitrust law.

Specifically, the Texas suit alleges that Google manipulates its advertising exchange to simultaneously underpay publishers and force advertisers to unknowingly overpay, pocketing the difference. The suit alleges that Google excludes competing advertisers from the market by intentionally tying different parts of its advertising services together, locking publishers and advertisers into using Google products over those of its competitors. The States also say that Google struck an illegal deal with Facebook, referred to as “Jedi Blue,” to eliminate competition that threatened Google’s ad monopoly. As part of that illegal deal, the suit claims Google rigs ad auctions in Facebook’s favor.

The States seek billions of dollars in monetary relief and are asking the Court to break up Google’s illegal advertising empire.

Texas Suit

December 16

Texas Files Suit

Texas, along with nine other states, files a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against Google for monopolization of the digital advertising market.

January 20

Google’s Relocation Request

Google asks a Texas judge to relocate the 10-state antitrust lawsuit to California, nearer to its headquarters, claiming it will be a more convenient and efficient place for the trial to take place.

March 16

More States Join Suit – Jedi Blue

Texas, now joined by four more states, amends its lawsuit against Google to allege new information about “Jedi Blue” – an arrangement, the states say, between Google and Facebook that advantaged Facebook in ad auctions and limited advertising market competition.

May 20

Google’s Transfer Request Denied

A federal judge in Texas rejects Google’s request to transfer the state’s antitrust lawsuit to California, reasoning that the move could unnecessarily delay the lawsuit.

August 12

Cases Consolidated

A federal judicial panel identifies other cases across the U.S. brought against Google for monopolizing the digital advertising market. For efficiency, the panel transfers all of them to a federal judge in the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

September 9

Second Amended Complaint Filed

The Court allows the State plaintiffs to file a second amended complaint, adding the States of Louisiana and South Carolina as plaintiffs and revising certain claims.

September 24

Discovery On Hold

Discovery – the process both sides of a lawsuit use to request information from each other about evidence that will be used at trial – is put on hold until the motion to dismiss to be filed by Google is resolved. The Court also orders Google to produce all documents already provided to Texas to the other plaintiffs in the similar lawsuits that were consolidated in Manhattan.

October 22

Unredacted Lawsuit Released

Overriding Google’s protests, it is deemed in the public interest to release a mostly-unredacted version of the lawsuit. The documents released suggest conflicts of interests in Google’s digital ad platforms, coordination with competitors to fortify its market share, outsized fees, and more—supporting Texas’s claims.

January 14

Third Amended Complaint Filed, More Revelations

Newly amended filings by Texas (and now 15 other states) allege that top Google and Facebook executives personally approved the “Jedi Blue” agreement and that the deal was made in order to kneecap a Google rival.

January 21

Google Requests Dismissal

Google asks the court to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming the states failed to show anticompetitive behavior and that the tech firm is being targeted for its success. The states and the private plaintiffs submit briefs opposing dismissal over the next three months.

August 31

Judge Hears Dismissal Request

The Court hears oral arguments for and against Google’s motion to toss out Texas’s antitrust suit, and the parties await a ruling. If the motion to dismiss is denied, a scheduling order that sets a timeline for the case will be entered, including discovery, summary judgment briefing, and trial.

September 13

Google’s Dismissal Fails

The Court finds the States’ case plausible and rules that the lawsuit can move forward – while agreeing to dismiss the States’ claim that Google’s “Jedi Blue” deal with Facebook was illegal.

November 21

Discovery Scheduled

The Court sets a schedule for the lawsuit’s discovery phase through the end of 2024, meaning a trial date of 2025 at the earliest. No trial date is set.

June 5

Suit Sent Back To Texas

A judicial panel transfers the States’ suit from the Southern District of New York, where it was moved to consolidate with other cases, back to the Eastern District of Texas, where it was originally filed. The panel’s reasoning is a law passed by Congress in December 2022 giving states more control over which court hears their cases.

December 27

Discovery Closes

Close of expert discovery, 45 days 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.