Texas Captains Antitrust Complaint Against Google for Ad Monopoly

On Wednesday, a coalition of states filed a major lawsuit against Google for its ostensibly illegal monopolization of the online advertising industry. Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, is reportedly spearheading the litigation effort alongside the attorneys general of Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Kentucky.

The lawsuit seeks to hold Google accountable for its “anticompetitive conduct, exclusionary practices, and deceptive misrepresentations in connection with its role in the multi-trillion-dollar online display advertising industry.” The filing continually points to the company’s profits, stating that it earns $161 billion in annual revenue due mostly to its “staggering” profit margins derived from advertising. The complaint charges Google with trammeling its competition by “repeatedly and brazenly violat(ing) antitrust and consumer protection laws,” on its way to the top.

The redacted 130-page complaint explained that through a series of anticompetitive actions, Google leverages its enormous market power to exact a “monopoly tax,” the percentage of which is redacted, from online publishers and content producers. As a result, Google has quashed competition and caused businesses to drastically overpay for the only realistic online advertising channel available, its own, the cost of which is ultimately passed on to American consumers.

The states appealed to the Eastern District of Texas court for a restoration of “free and fair competition” in the online advertising markets. They are seeking “structural, behavioral, and monetary relief to prevent Google from ever again engaging in deceptive trade practices and abusing its monopoly power to foreclose competition and harm consumers.”

The complaint followed two others, one by private plaintiffs who placed online advertisements through Google in June, and a “monopoly gatekeeper” suit filed by the Department of Justice in October for supposed Section 2 Sherman Act violations. In between the filing of those two suits, a House subcommittee released a scathing antitrust report concluding more than a yearlong investigation into several tech heavyweights, including Google.

The states are represented by their attorneys general, and Texas by its attorney general, The Lanier Law Firm, and Keller Lenkner, LLC.