Google’s Jedi Blue ad deal with Meta wasn’t unlawful, judge rules

A New York federal judge has ruled that the Texas attorney general’s antitrust lawsuit against Google can proceed in several states. However, Judge P. Kevin Castel also dismissed plaintiffs’ contention that Google’s online advertising deal with Meta, code-named Jedi Blue, constituted an unlawful restriction of trade. The judge said that “there is nothing inexplicable or suspicious” about the agreement between the two companies.

If you recall, the states that filed the lawsuit accused Google of making a deal with Meta that gave the latter certain advantages on the ad exchange the tech giant runs. As Bloomberg notes that Meta allegedly had to abandon its plans to introduce a new technology that would have hurt Google’s monopoly and support the tech giant’s open bidding approach when it comes to selling ads in return.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he would file a “multi-state lawsuit against Google alleging anticompetitive conduct, foreclosure practices and deceptive misrepresentations” as early as 2020. The lawsuit focused on Google’s technical advertising practices and how the company said Paxton uses its “monopolistic power to control the pricing” of ads and “to engage in market collusion.”

Google tried to dismiss the lawsuit earlier this year. Although Judge Castel was unsuccessful in dismissing the lawsuit outright, the company nevertheless released a solemn note about the decision. “Importantly, the court dismissed allegations regarding our open bidding agreement with Meta – the heart of AG Paxton’s case,” the company wrote in a blog post. The tech giant added that the deal has never been a secret and that it is pro-competitive. It also called Paxton’s case “deeply flawed”.

Although the judge in this case dismissed the claim that Jedi Blue was illegal, the deal and Google’s ad tech practices overall are still under scrutiny by authorities. The European Commission and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority launched an antitrust investigation into the companies’ agreement back in March. And just last month Bloomberg had reported that the US Department of Justice was preparing to sue Google sometime in September for its dominance in the advertising market.

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