Google faces two legal cases that could result in the company paying out damages of up to $37 billion over allegations of anti-competitive behavior. One case will take place in the United Kingdom and one case will take place in the Netherlands, both filed by publishers who are seeking compensation for Google’s abuse of its dominance. These lawsuits come after numerous complaints against Google by antitrust regulators who found some concerning evidence during their investigation.
Ad tech vendors power online advertisements people can view via their mobile devices, or while browsing the internet. Google is one of the most prominent tech vendors – with a global market share reaching upwards of 90%. Selling advertisement space has become a lucrative source of income for publishers including international news media outlets and smaller operations like independent bloggers – all agreeing to show ads on their sites in exchange for money. Officials from both the European Commission and the United Kingdom are now investigating whether Google’s monopoly in this industry unfairly disadvantages its competitors and advertisers. France’s National Data Protection Authority fined Google € 220 million last year. Speaking about this issue, Ireland’s Council for Civil Liberties vice-chairman Johnny Ryan had this to say: Google is under pressure on two major issues—one being anti-trust and another being data protection.
Mr. Ryan said We have seen many more cases coming forward as regulators demand greater accountability from Google. Yet he goes on to add, The fines imposed thus far by regulatory bodies for antitrust violations have yet to create any sort of the meaningful change in their operations. Damien Geradin of Geradin Partners remarked that publishers are feeling a difficult struggle trying to stay afloat in an environment where Google is inherently anti-competitive. To quote him: It’s time for the corporation responsible for the destruction of these news enterprises to do what it can and repay them the damages they owe.
A tale of two claims
There are two competing arguments; one is the British example made in the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal seeking compensation for webmasters who publishes banner advertising. If successful, this would mean a broad group could receive compensation–starting with major media sites and working down to small and medium widespread businesses. Businesses that refuse to participate can still get compensated via damages through suits via law enforcement agencies making cases against big businesses like Google. There is also Toby Starr of Humphries Kerstetter, who plans on bringing its claim to Geradin Partners at next month’s tribunal date. They’re confident in winning based on reliable sources coming from within the company such as discussions happening internally that reveal Google’s anticompetitive behaviors around ad tech and how those take away from many other businesses putting them at risk financially (as much as $7 billion).
This includes popular local news sites all over the country, along with many of the thousands of small businesses relying on advertising revenue – whether from their fishing blog, food blogs, football fanzines or other online content they’ve created. The UK’s Competition Commission is also investigating Google’s dominance in this industry.
Future-Looing. Geradin Partners will team up with Netherlands law firm Stek to bring the collective claim. Jan Bart van de Hel, from Stek, said: Many publishers have suffered damages as a result of Google’s wrongful actions. This is something we need to take notice of because it isn’t only about making sure that the publisher receives what they deserve; but also making certain such mistakes do not happen again in the future. UK litigation funder Harbor funded both lawsuits. Harbour was privately owned company which paid for legal costs upfront and helped manage those cost plus potential risk on behalf of their clients in return for agreed profits upon success.
Future-thinking. Geradin Partners will partner with Dutch law firm Stek to take this collective action against Google for its wrongful acts. Jan Bart van de Hel, from Stek, stated: Many publishers have been damaged as a result of Google’s wrongdoings.