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European Companies File Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

— February 29, 2024

The lawsuit, filed in an Amsterdam-based district court, suggests that Google abused its market position to suppress competition from other publishers.

A group of nearly three-dozen European media organizations have filed a $2.3 billion lawsuit against Google, claiming that the company’s practices have caused extensive and potentially irreparable financial harm.

According to The Guardian, the 32 organizations involved in the complaint—including publishers in Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain, among other countries—coincides with an increased push for antitrust regulation in the European Union.

“The media companies involved have incurred losses due to a less competitive market, which is a direct result of Google’s misconduct,” the companies said in a statement issued by attorneys from Geradin Partners and Netherlands-based Stek.

“Without Google’s abuse of its dominant position, the media companies would have received significantly higher revenues from advertising and paid lower fees for ad tech services,” attorneys said. “Crucially, these funds could have been reinvested into strengthening the European media landscape.”

The lawsuit, notes The New York Post, was filed in the District Court of Amsterdam, a “key jurisdiction for antitrust damages claims in Europe.” It references the terms of a 2021 settlement between Google and French regulators, whereby Google agreed to pay $270 million in fines and make changes to its advertising system and practices.

French regulators had, at the time, accused Google of abusing its market position to harm other players in the advertising industry.

Google Search Screen
Google Search Screen; image courtesy of Simon via pixabay,

“News media were negatively affected at a time when their economic model is already weakened by the decline in sales of print subscriptions and the decline in associated advertising revenue,” the media coalition said in a statement.

Google’s legal director, Oliver Bethell, has since denied the claims, telling the Post that the companies’ claims are “speculative” and “opportunistic.”

“This lawsuit is speculative and opportunistic,” Bethell said. “We’ll oppose it vigorously and on the facts.”

Bethell further said that it disagreed with recent E.U. regulatory charges against Google’s ad-tech business, which is involved in both the purchase and sale of digital advertisements.

“Google works constructively with publishers across Europe—our advertising tools, and those of our many adtech competitors, help millions of websites and apps fund their content, and enable businesses of all sizes to effectively reach consumers,” he said. “These services adapt and evolve in partnership with those same publishers.”

Outside of Europe, Google continues to face similar claims in the United States. Last November, for instance, the federal Department of Justice accused Google of wielding “monopoly power” that “harmed consumers.”


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