Google Battles Marketers Over Antitrust Claims

Google has asked a judge to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit brought by a group of marketers that allege the company monopolized “online display advertising services.”

“The whole is no greater than the sum of the parts, and the amalgam does not add up to a monopolization claim,” Google argues in papers filed Monday with U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose.

The company's papers come in response to a lawsuit by marketers including Florida-based Prana Pets (which sells herbs for dogs and cats), San Francisco law firm Hanson Law and three individuals.

Their lawsuit is separate from the Justice Department's recent complaint alleging that Google unlawfully monopolizes the online search marketplace.

Prana Pets and the others alleged in a class-action complaint brought earlier this year that Google “leveraged its stranglehold on online search and search advertising to gain an illegal monopoly in brokering display advertising.”



The marketers added that Google obtained market dominance “by acquiring rivals in the online advertising space, conditioning access to its search-results data and YouTube video advertising platform upon the purchase of its separate display advertising services, and ensuring those systems were not compatible with those of its competitors in online advertising.”

Google argues the complaint should be dismissed for several reasons, including that “online display advertising services” isn't a relevant market for antitrust purposes.

“Plaintiffs’ proposed market for 'online display advertising services' on the 'open web' improperly excludes other ways for advertisers to reach website publishers without using Google’s products and services, and also improperly excludes the many alternatives to online display advertising,” the company argues.

Google adds that other tech companies -- including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Amazon -- require use of their own ad systems.

Prana Pets and the other marketers allege in their complaint that those other companies only offer “close-ended advertising” on their own sites.

But Google says the marketers failed to adequately allege that advertising with those other companies is not “reasonably interchangeable” with using Google's display ad services.

“Plaintiffs’ effort to carve out popular websites from the relevant market simply confirms that their market definition is out of step with reality,” the company argues.

Google also says the marketers' complaint doesn't include any specifics that could show they overpaid for ads.

Google separately says that claims by at least four of the five marketers who are suing should be dismissed because those marketers agreed to arbitrate any disputes.

Freeman is expected to hold a hearing in the case next April.

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