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Judge instead of jury will rule in upcoming antitrust case | California news

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A judge instead of a jury will decide whether Google violated federal antitrust laws by building a monopoly on the technology that powers online advertising.

Friday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema was a defeat for the Justice Department, which sought a jury trial when it took the case to federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, last year.

But the government’s right to a jury trial was based largely on the fact that it was seeking monetary damages to compensate federal agencies that purchased online ads and claimed they were overcharged as a result of Google’s anticompetitive conduct. However, the dollar values ​​associated with these claims were relatively small – less than $750,000 – and far less significant than other solutions the government sought, including forcing Google to sell parts of its advertising technology.

As a result, Google last month took the extraordinary step of writing the government a check for more than $2 million — multiplying the $750,000 in damages sought by the government by three because antitrust cases allow tripled damages.

Mountain View, California-based Google argued that issuing the check rendered moot any government claim of monetary damages and obviated the need for a jury trial.

At a hearing Friday in Alexandria, Justice Department lawyers argued that the check Google issued was insufficient to substantiate the damages claim, prompting a technical discussion about how experts would attempt to quantify the damages.

Brinkema ruled in favor of Google. She said the amount of Google’s check covered the highest possible amount the government requested in its initial filings. She likened receiving the money, which was paid to the government unconditionally regardless of whether the tech giant prevailed in its arguments to initiate a jury trial, as equivalent to “receiving a wheelbarrow of cash.”

Google said in a statement after Friday’s hearing that it is “pleased that the Court has ruled that this matter will be tried by a judge. As we said, this case is a futile attempt to pick winners and losers in a highly competitive industry that has contributed to overwhelming economic growth for companies of all sizes.”

In its lawsuits, Google also argued that the constitutional right to a jury trial does not apply to a civil suit brought by the government. The government disagreed with this claim, but said it would not seek a court ruling on this constitutional issue.

The antitrust lawsuit in Virginia is separate from a case in the District of Columbia alleging that Google’s search engine is an illegal monopoly. A judge there has heard closing arguments in that case, but has not yet ruled.

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