Texas wins round against Google as antitrust lawsuit returned to Lone Star state

FILE PHOTO: The logo for Google LLC is seen at the Google Store Chelsea in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly//

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Texas won the latest round in its antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet's Google on Monday as a U.S. judicial panel ordered the case returned to federal court in Texas.

At Google's request the lawsuit had been moved in August 2021 to a federal court in New York, where other advertising technology cases were being heard.

Texas had asked for the lawsuit to be moved back after the U.S. Congress passed the Venue Act in 2022 that grants state attorneys general the right to choose where an antitrust lawsuit will be litigated.

The Texas lawsuit accuses Google of violating the law by dominating the process that advertisers use to put ads online. Website publishers complain that has resulted in lower revenues.

Google said it disagreed with the decision. "We're confident that any court will agree that the Texas Attorney General's case is wrong on both the facts and the law," a spokesperson added.

The Texas attorney general's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In its order, signed by chair Karen Caldwell, the panel of judges wrote: "On its face, the Venue Act plainly is intended to allow state antitrust actions to proceed in the action’s original forum."

The decision was made by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.

The case will return to the eastern district of Texas, which has a reputation for being a rocket docket, with quicker hearings and decisions made on cases.

The search and advertising giant, which also makes a smartphone operating system and owns YouTube, faces antitrust lawsuits around the world with most based on abuse of dominance of one sort or another. Google has denied any wrongdoing in how it runs its many businesses.

In addition to the Texas fight, Google is battling the U.S. federal government in two antitrust lawsuits, one based on abuse of dominance of search and the other abuse of dominance of advertising technology. And states led by Utah filed a lawsuit in 2021 saying the company broke antitrust law in handling its play store.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Chris Reese, Mark Porter and Aurora Ellis)

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