Google Responds to DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit

Google today responded to the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit against it, which seeks to divest DoubleClick from the online giant.

“Today’s lawsuit from the Department of Justice attempts to pick winners and losers in the highly competitive advertising technology sector,” Google vice president Dan Taylor writes. “The DOJ is doubling down on a flawed argument that would slow innovation, raise advertising fees and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow.”

Bristling that the U.S. government would try to unwind the key acquisition that allowed it to dominate the online advertising market, Google says that doing so would “rewrite history at the expense of publishers, advertisers and internet users.” But that’s not true: this would only be at the expense of Google, which benefited from the lax regulatory environment of that era, leading to years of abuse.

Google makes some spurious comparisons to competitor moves, as well. Microsoft, a distant competitor that doesn’t even crack the top five in this market, acquired Xandr, paving the way for its deal with Netflix, for example. And Amazon, the number four player—with annual ad revenues that are less than one-quarter of Google’s—is “growing faster than Google’s advertising business.

The point, of course, is to show that there is competition. And there is. It’s just that Google is much bigger than all of them.

Google’s comparison of this lawsuit to a somewhat similar lawsuit that was brought against it in Texas is also interesting. Google effectively tore apart the Texas suit one year ago in a curiously caustic post that I found amusing at the time. But Google’s complaints against Texas don’t apply here: the Texas attorneys general rewrote that state’s lawsuit three times after its arguments were found to be inaccurate or false.

Whatever. Reversing a previously approved acquisition is a big hurdle, especially given the 15 years that have gone by since then. It will be interesting to see how this case progresses.

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