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Meet the Judge Overseeing DOJ’s 2nd Antitrust Case Against Google

The National Law Journal

January 26, 2023

Judge Leonie Brinkema’s 30 years on the bench have featured a few significant antitrust cases.

What You Need to Know

  • U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema was assigned to the DOJ’s antitrust lawsuit against Google.
  • Brinkema was appointed to the bench in 1993 by Bill Clinton.
  • The government wants court to unwind Google’s 2008 acquisition of DoubleClick.

The Justice Department’s second antitrust case against Google over its alleged monopoly on digital advertising was randomly assigned on Wednesday to Judge Leonie Brinkema.

Brinkema was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton, after serving as a federal magistrate judge for eight years.

Brinkema’s 30 years on the bench have featured a few significant antitrust cases, including one in the early internet age: a lawsuit game maker Kesmai brought in 1997 against AOL, then a major online service provider that has since shrunk. Kesmai, which had a contract to provide games to AOL, sought to block a merger between AOL and its rival CompuServe. The suit claimed AOL was favoring its own online gaming network over its providers’ games, and it was ultimately settled.

. . .

The keystone of the DOJ’s requested relief in the Google case is to unwind the tech company’s 2008 acquisition of the ad tech firm DoubleClick for over $3 billion, said Daniel McCuaig, a partner at Cohen Milstein.

DoubleClick was the market-leading publisher ad server at the time, with 60% of market share, according to the filing.

McCuaig said Brinkema would carry out a cost-benefit analysis and if she granted that relief, it “would be dramatic and, likely, effective.”

“The biggest issue on the ‘cost’ side will be the extent to which the Google human resources and infrastructure that undergird DoubleClick and AdX are shared with other Google properties in ways that would be difficult to divvy up. Fifteen years after the merger went through, you’d have to expect that divestiture would involve some pain,” McCuaig said, while also noting another key question will be whether the DOJ’s request is needed to rid the market of anticompetitiveness rather than a less onerous proposal Google is likely to put forward.

Read the story on National Law Journal.