[German] Google and its parent Alphabet are facing further legal trouble, as lawsuits have been filed in the EU and the UK. It's about "damages" for publishers who feel they have been harmed by Google's actions in the area of advertising technology. In the worst case scenario, the publishers' claims could add up to 25 billion euros if these lawsuits are successful.
This week Google comes under fire. The first blow for the group was the confirmation by an EU court of a fine of 4.125 billion euros imposed on Google by the EU competition authority. The issue there was the obstruction of competition in Android and market power in the search engine and display market (see also EU court confirms billion-dollar fine against Google over Android restrictions). Then, in a U.S. court case, it was revealed that Google can determine and track the location of users on Android, even if they have explicitly disabled tracking of location data in Android devices (see Court documents show how Google monitors users despite rejected tracking).
Lawsuit by UK and EU publishers
The Register reported Wednesday in this article on a new legal battle between Google and publishers. Law firm Geradin Partners announced a lawsuit on behalf of publishers against Google parent Alphabet. The reason given for the lawsuit is that publishers have been harmed by Google's approach to advertising technology.
The law firm argues: At a time when many media companies were struggling to pay journalists' salaries, Google had deprived them of billions in revenue through anti-competitive behavior. For many publishers, suing a giant company like Google would be too expensive. Damien Geradin (Geradin Partners) is quoted as follows:
Publishers, including local and national news media that play an important role in our society, have long been harmed by Google's anti-competitive behavior. It is time for Google to own up to its responsibility and pay back the damage it has done to this important industry.
In the related announcement, the law firm announces two lawsuits to seek compensation for publishers. One suit will be launched in the European Union (EU) and a second suit will be launched in the United Kingdom (UK), it said. Geradin Partners has teamed up with Dutch law firm Stek for the EU lawsuit. A class action lawsuit will be filed there on behalf of EU publishers in European courts. The legal analysis is supported by the independent business consulting firm Charles River Associates ("CRA").
In the UK, Geradin Partners has partnered with UK law firm Humphries Kerstetter to file an opt-out class action in the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal. The UK action focuses on obtaining compensation for lost revenue from the sale of advertising space on the websites of all group members. Funding for both lawsuits has been secured from litigation funder Harbour.
French competition authority gives hope
Hope for the lawsuits is given by the fact that the French competition authority imposed a fine of 220 million euros on Google in 2021 in connection with its conduct in the ad tech sector. Ad-Tech is shorthand for the technologies that power the online advertising that billions of consumers see every day as they surf the web and use their smartphones. The French competition authority's decision stemmed from a complaint filed by the same law firm. The latter had filed a complaint on behalf of News Corp in the summer of 2019.
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