On Wednesday, Google filed a motion to change U.S. District Court venues for an upcoming antitrust case, requesting a shift from the Eastern District of Texas to the Northern District of California.
In October, the Department of Justice and 11 states, led by Texas, sued Google for antitrust violations. The case asserts that Google has a monopoly on internet searches and search advertising markets, as well as working with companies such as Facebook to unfairly grow their advertising base, despite it already being the largest online by far with a third of the market.
“As internal Google documents reveal, Google sought to kill competition and has done so through an array of exclusionary tactics, including an unlawful agreement with Facebook, its largest potential competitive threat,” states the lawsuit.
Google has denied these claims, but with the case moving forward, the company has been searching for ways in which the trial could be deemed unfair.
In Google’s motion of State of Texas v. Google LLC, the company noted that all other antitrust cases against the company were filed in Northern California. Google also pointed out that they are headquartered in the district and that it has more witnesses and documents located there than in any other district in the country. This includes the Eastern District of Texas, which has no company or person relevant to the case in the district.
“All of these similar suits were filed in the Northern District of California, the venue where Google is headquartered and where more relevant witnesses are located than in any other district in the country,” said the motion filed by Google. “The states’ lawsuit in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas – a venue that has no special connection to the case and no allegations that tie Google to the division, district, or state of Texas. The states’ lawsuit does not identify a single company or person who might be a witness at trial and lives or works within 100 miles of the District Court.
” Transferring promises an extra measure of judicial economy, because it offers the prospect that one judge can oversee discovery, gain familiarity with the facts and legal issues, rule on dispositive motions, and, if necessary, preside over a trial.”
Although a change is seemingly in favor of the internet giant, the change of venue request has had legal experts saying that it is reasonable and makes sense.
A change of venue request
“There’s nothing really wrong with this, per sey,” Paul Szabo, a lawyer who has defended tech companies and start-ups in the past, told the Globe. “A lot of people think this is home field advantage for Google if it goes to Northern California, which has its courthouse smack dab in the middle of San Francisco. But it honestly makes sense. Google would have to send a lot of people out to Texas for this, which is only in the state in the first place because the state had it filed there before they could in California.”
“Remember, Google has lost, badly I may add, in Northern California before. Against the federal government too. They have hundreds of lawyers and still lose big cases and small cases alike. So it’s not a matter of that.”
“Really, this boils down to no relevant companies being in the area around the district court and making it a little easier on Google to send everything necessary and cut down on any related costs. Government too, because that means less work when more resources for a case are in one place.”
The federal government and the 11 states are asking for damages and “structural relief” of the company to counter the alleged antitrust actions by the company.
If not settled beforehand, the case is expected to go to court, either in Texas or California, later this year.