UK publishers file £13.6 billion lawsuit against Google alleging market abuse

 
UK publishers file £13.6 billion lawsuit against Google alleging market abuse

A group of 130,000 businesses publishing around 1,750,000 websites and apps in the UK have filed a lawsuit against Google and its parent company, Alphabet. The lawsuit is being handled by law firms Humphries Kerstetter and Geradin Partners, who allege that“Google abused its dominant position in the internet advertising market, making super-profits for itself at the expense of the tens of thousands of website and mobile app publishers in the UK. “

The law firms’ economic analysis of Google’s alleged anti-competitive behaviour suggests that some companies may have seen their advertising revenues reduced by 40%. While Google has been the subject of multiple regulatory investigations in the EU, the UK and the US, resulting in a €220 million fine by the French competition authorities, this lawsuit aims to compensate publishers and recover losses through a competition class action.

A statement released by Humphries Kerstetter details the focus of its investigations:

“All of these competition investigations focus on the same fundamental facts. Google dominates the ad tech services markets in the UK and globally, controlling up to 90% of the market in certain sectors. This allows Google to dictate terms, control prices and, in some cases, favour its own platforms in the process of selecting the ads that are served”.

The allegations in the competition lawsuit are similar to the lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice alleging Google used AMP to prevent header bidding and speed up the load time of non-AMP ads.

“The online advertising market is sophisticated, technical and highly automated,” said Claudio Pollack, who is leading the UK publishers’ competition lawsuit. “Advertising is sold in a fraction of a second in a process that is designed to match the product being advertised to the profile of an individual visiting a website. Third-party platforms operate on both sides of the market, matching supply to demand and, in an ideal world, ensuring that the market operates efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately, it has already been proven that this market has developed in a way that primarily serves Google”.

In parallel, a Dutch law firm, in collaboration with Geradin Partners, will file a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the EU. They are seeking compensation for alleged harm to small local publishers who have struggled to stay afloat amid declining advertising revenues.

“While the value of the lawsuit we filed is considerable, we believe this matter goes far beyond money,” said Damien Geradin, founding partner of Geradin Partners. “For years, Google has denied businesses in the UK, Europe and beyond, including local press and community-focused website publishers, the ability to earn adequate revenue from advertising. As well as holding Google to account, the parties that have lost out need adequate compensation, something that can be achieved by a complaint to The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) at no cost to those parties.”

Source, Sarah Gooding at WPTavern.

The complaint, which alleges serious anti-competitive practices, will be led by Claudio Pollack, a former Ofcom director, and is funded by Harbour. The Geradin Partners team comprises Damien Geradin and Stijn Huijts (partners), David Gallagher (counsel), Dimitrios Katsifis (senior associate) and Simay Erciyas (associate).

The UK lawsuit will be followed by a European Economic Area-wide lawsuit to be filed in the Netherlands in early 2023, together with Amsterdam-based law firm Stek.(Source)


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