Google Pushes to Dismiss Antitrust Lawsuit Filed By Multiple States

Google has responded to the explosive antitrust lawsuit allegations by asking the judge to dismiss the lawsuit outright.

The allegations were explosive. Yesterday, we reported on the story about Google’s “Project Bernanke”. The allegations that were levied against Google suggested that Google had manipulated the advertising system to ensure that their ads got priority over ads bought elsewhere. As the system evolved, the revenue for publishers got allegedly suppressed by up to 40%. Meanwhile, according to the allegations, the advertisers that had their ad suppressed were charged full price. That allowed Google to “release” the surplus funds to try and pump up the value of their priority ads on their network.

Those allegations were part of a much larger antitrust effort pushed by multiple states. Still, the implications of such applications are potentially big should they actually be true. For one, any publisher that uses Google ads would have been affected – either within the US or around the globe (we can’t tell which based on what we’ve read so far). For another, advertisers who took out advertising could have been affected by this as well. Given that Google is a dominant player in the online advertising world, there is quite a lot at stake here.

Today, we are learning that Google has responded to the allegations. They said that the allegations are without merit and that the lawsuit contains no evidence of wrongdoing. From WTVBAM:

Alphabet Inc’s Google asked a federal judge on Friday to dismiss the majority of an antitrust lawsuit filed by Texas and other states that accused the search giant of abusing its dominance of the online advertising market.

Google said in its court filing that the states failed to show that it illegally worked with Facebook, now Meta, to counter “header bidding,” a technology that publishers developed to make more money from advertising placed on their websites. Facebook has not been named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The states had also alleged that Google used at least three programs to manipulate ad auctions to coerce advertisers and publishers into using Google’s tools.

Google responded that the states had a “collection of grievances” but no proof of wrongdoing. On some of the allegations, Google argued further that the states waited too long to file its lawsuit.

“They criticize Google for not designing its products to better suit its rivals’ needs and for making improvements to those products that leave its competitors too far behind. They see the ‘solution’ to Google’s success as holding Google back, rather than letting market forces urge its competitors forward,” the company said in its filing.

As of now, we don’t have access to the legal filing, though we are currently on the lookout for it. At any rate, the legal response isn’t really surprising. They don’t want to be seen as breaking antitrust laws. What’s more is that they don’t want people to think that they manipulated their advertising system to their benefit which would theoretically add a significant layer of liability on them. Really, saying that the allegations have no proof was really the only response that could have been expected.

So, now the case is left up to a judge to determine. Two possibilities are that the judge can agree and dismiss the case outright. Another possible outcome is that the case can proceed and, thus, breathe new life into this part of the antitrust effort. Another possibility is that parts of the lawsuit can be dismissed while other parts could move forward. For obvious reasons, we will certainly be interested to see where this lawsuit goes next given how much is at stake here.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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