Good morning. The DOJ’s trial accusingGoogle of illegal domination of the search market kicks off today, and it’s a fight that could shape the future of the internet as we know it. Plus, Morgan & Morgan gets its trademark on #LAW after a fight with the USPTO, and Paul Weiss raidsKirkland for private equity partners. Check our calendar – Google isn’t the only thing happening today!
A high-stakes antitrust trial is set to begin today in Washington, D.C., as Google faces the DOJ and a coalition of state attorneys general who allege the company didn’t play by the rules in its efforts to dominate online search.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, an Obama nominee who has presided over several major antitrust disputes, will oversee the trial. The legal fight has huge implications for Big Tech, which has been accused of buying or strangling small competitors but has insulated itself against many antitrust accusations because the services the companies provide to users are free, as in the case of Google, or inexpensive, as in the case of Amazon.com.
Previous major antitrust trials include Microsoft, filed in 1998, and AT&T, filed in 1974. The AT&T breakup in 1982 is credited with paving the way for the modern cell phone industry, while the fight with Microsoft is credited with opening space for Google and others on the internet.
At the trial, the DOJ is expected to detail how Alphabet’s Google paid billions of dollars annually to device makers like Apple, wireless companies like AT&T, and browser makers like Mozilla to keep Google’s search engine atop the leader board. Google, which is represented by attorneys from Williams & Connolly, Ropes & Gray and Wilson Sonsini, has denied wrongdoing and is expected to argue that its high market share is not because it broke the law but because it is a fast, free and effective search engine.
Plaintiffs’ law firm Morgan & Morgan has agreed to end a lawsuit against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after making progress in its bid to register the trademark “#LAW,” the two sides said in Florida federal court filing. The filing said the PTO would approve Morgan & Morgan’s application after receiving new supporting evidence from the firm. (Reuters)
Two Yale Law School students ended their lawsuit against the school’s dean and other administrators, which alleged they faced retaliation for not participating in the investigation of high-profile professor Amy Chua in 2021. U.S. District Judge Omar A. Williams in New Haven, Connecticut, closed the case after the students and the Yale defendants jointly requested dismissal. The students’ attorney declined to comment, and a Yale spokesperson and Chua did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reuters)
Illinois bar officials recommended a three-year attorney suspension for a former federal prosecutor and shareholder at Polsinelli who made incendiary comments about judges, prosecutors and Jewish people while representing his brother, who was on trial for murder (Reuters)
Former U.S. President Donald Trump filed a motion seeking to disqualify U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan from presiding over one of the criminal cases charging him with trying to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss. Trump argued in a court filing that Chutkan’s prior statements appearing to refer to his role in influencing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters raise questions about her impartiality in the case. (Reuters)
That’s how many animals a large factory farm in the U.S. can have – at least, according to EPA definitions. A group of 13 environmental organizations has sued the EPA seeking to force the agency to bolster regulations for industrialized livestock farms, which can pollute rivers and lakes with raw sewage and other contaminants. Current regulations require factory farms to apply for permits allowing them to discharge waste into waterways only if they admit they plan on polluting, according to the groups.
The U.S. government and the family of a U.S. citizen who was stabbed to death in a 2018 attack outside of a shopping mall in the West Bank were hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 27 ruling in Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway would be a lifeline for plaintiffs with Anti-Terrorism Act claims against the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. Instead, the Supreme Court’s Mallory decision sank plaintiffs’ hopes of reviving their lawsuit at the 2nd Circuit. Alison Frankel has the story.
The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit is hearing arguments as biotechnology company Illumina challenges the FTC’s order that it divest cancer diagnostic test maker Grail. San Diego-based Illumina, which specializes in gene sequencing, is appealing an April 3 FTC order that said the company’s $7.1 billion acquisition of Grail will curb competition in the cancer-testing market. Illumina, which is represented by Cravath, has denied the allegations.
U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton in Los Angeles will weigh evidence in a continued hearing over famed plaintiffs’ attorney Tom Girardi’s competence to stand trial on charges he embezzled millions in funds from clients. Girardi, who has been disbarred, is facing five counts of wire fraud in Los Angeles for allegedly embezzling $15 million from 2010 to 2020. Girardi’s legal and personal affairs are now handled by his brother Robert, who has asserted that his brother is mentally incompetent.
U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos is scheduled to sentence Karl Sebastian Greenwood, who admitted to fraud and money laundering charges in December for selling a fake cryptocurrency alongside one of the United States’ most-wanted fugitives, a woman referred to as the “Cryptoqueen.” Prosecutors said Greenwood claimed to be offering cryptocurrency OneCoin to investors, but was actually running a pyramid scheme that defrauded them out of $4 billion.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
In the courts
A medical researcher asked a court to throw out a Johnson & Johnson lawsuit over her 2019 study on the links between cosmetic talc products and cancer, saying that her research is sound and protected by free speech rights. Jacqueline Moline, who has served as a plaintiffs’ expert in more than 200 cases alleging that J&J talc products caused patients to develop cancer, said that the lawsuit was an effort to “intimidate” scientific experts. (Reuters)
A group of authors, including Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon, has sued OpenAI accusing the Microsoft-backed program of misusing their writing to train ChatGPT. The group, which also includes playwright David Henry Hwang and authors Matthew Klam, Rachel Louise Snyder and Ayelet Waldman, said in their lawsuit that OpenAI copied their works without permission to teach ChatGPT to respond to human text prompts. (Reuters)
U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker in Texas ruled that the CFPB lacks broad authority to tackle discriminatory banking practices. The ruling hands a win to financial industry groups, including the American Bankers Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that sued the consumer watchdog last year (Reuters)
AB InBev’s Grupo Modelo resolved a trademark lawsuit that accused its distributor Constellation of breaking their licensing agreement by selling unauthorized bourbon- and tequila-barrel Modelo Reserva beers. Constellation agreed to permanently stop selling the two liquor-barrel beers, according to a proposed final judgment the companies filed in Manhattan federal court. (Reuters)
U.S. District Judge Richard Andrews dismissed a gun industry challenge to a state law that expands the liability of gun makers and sellers after shootings, saying it was too soon for the court to rule on a law that hadn’t been used in litigation yet. Andrews’ ruling comes after the 3rd Circuitruled the same way in a gun industry challenge to a similar law in New Jersey. (Reuters)
Paul Weiss hired 13 private equity-focused partners in London, New York and Los Angeles, led by Neel Sachdev, Roger Johnson and Eric Wedel. Twelve lawyers arrive from Kirkland, and one partner, William Aitken-Davies, joins from Linklaters. (Reuters)
Simpson Thacher hired Houston-based partner Katy Lukaszewski to the firm’s energy and infrastructure practice. Lukaszewski previously was at Sidley. (Reuters)
Hunton Andrews Kurth brought on commercial litigator Susan Shin as a partner in New York. Shin arrives from Weil. (Hunton Andrews Kurth)
Nardello & Co hired Wendy Wu as a managing director and a member of its digital investigations and cyber defense practice, based in Los Angeles. She most recently was U.S. general counsel at Wallbrook. (Nardello & Co)
FisherBroyles added Jed Davis as a partner focusing on cyber-risk, privacy and data security. Davis, based in New York, most recently was a solo practitioner. (FisherBroyles)
Barnes & Thornburg added construction law partner Eric Berg to the firm’s litigation department, based in Chicago. He was previously at Ogletree Deakins. (Barnes & Thornburg)