Person v. Google Dismissed (with leave to amend)

By Eric Goldman

Person v. Google, C 06-7297 JF (RS) (N.D. Cal. Mar. 16, 2007)

As expected, Judge Fogel dismissed Person’s antitrust lawsuit against Google but gave Person one more chance to refile a complaint. It would be foolish for him to do so, but he hasn’t shown a great deal of litigation savvy to date. Sadly, this probably means one more futile round before Judge Fogel puts a stop to this nonsense.

The most interesting part of the opinion relates to the judge’s definition of the “relevant market” for antitrust purposes. The judge rightly rejects the argument that the relevant market is search engine keyword-triggered advertising; instead, he defines it as “Internet advertising” generally. I think this is clearly right because advertisers are fairly willing to substitute between Internet advertising options so long as they deliver good value. However, by defining the market so broadly, the judge has implicitly thwarted attempts to declare Google a monopolist in its ad business–Google is a major player in the search keyword ad business, but it has a comparatively small slice of the overall online advertising pie.