Texas announced Wednesday that it will sue Google, accusing the search giant of maintaining an illegal monopoly in online advertising. The suit, which has yet to appear in an official filing, was first announced in a video from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Texas will be joined by Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah and Idaho, according to reporting from Reuters.
“It isn’t fair that google effectively eliminated its competition and crowned itself the head of online advertising,” Paxton said. Paxton argues that Google’s advertising practices and “anticompetitive conduct” give it too much power over the online advertising ecosystem, to the detriment of publishers.
Paxton’s name might sound familiar. He’s the state official who led a recent lawsuit disputing President-elect Joe Biden’s wins in the battleground states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin on behalf of Texas. The Supreme Court unceremoniously rejected the suit on the grounds that the state lacked the standing to file it. Paxton is also currently under investigation by the FBI for bribery allegations, making him a deeply controversial figure to lead such an effort.
Last week, 46 states announced a separate lawsuit against Facebook over parallel antitrust concerns. That suit, which the state of Texas is also participating in, alleges that Facebook built a monopoly through predatory business practices like buying its rivals. The FTC also filed its own lawsuit against Facebook last week, alleging that the company is a monopoly and that its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp should be undone.
Anthony Levandowski, the engineer and autonomous vehicle startup founder who was at the center of a trade secrets lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, has been ordered to pay $179 million to end a contract dispute over his departure from Google.
Reuters was the first to report the court order.
An arbitration panel ruled in December that Levandowski and Lior Ron had engaged in unfair competition and breached their contract with Google when they left the company to start a rival autonomous vehicle company focused on trucking, called Otto. Uber acquired Otto in 2017. A San Francisco County court confirmed Wednesday the panel’s decision.
Ron settled last month with Google for $9.7 million. However, Levandowski, had disputed the ruling. The San Francisco County Superior Court denied his petition today, granting Google’s petition to hold Levandowski to the arbitration agreement under which he was liable.
Levandowski himself may not have to pay the money personally, as this sort of liability may fall to his employer depending on his contract or other legal quirks. However, Levandowski personally filed today for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, stating that the presumptive $179M debt quite exceeds his assets, which he estimates at somewhere between $50M and $100M.
A representative for Levandowski declined comment for this story.
Devin Coldewey contributed to this story.