Google Hit With New Antitrust Lawsuits By Genius, Sweepstakes Today, Other Publishers

Genius Media Group -- which unsuccessfully sued Google for allegedly scraping lyrics -- along with publishers The Nation Company and The Progressive, have brought a new antitrust lawsuit against Google for allegedly rigging the online display advertising market.

“The unlawful anticompetitive conduct at the heart of this case occurs in the display advertising marketplace, where publishers sell advertising space through real-time auctions,” the companies allege in a class-action complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California.

“Through its campaign of anticompetitive conduct, Google has achieved and maintained a monopoly or near-monopoly in that marketplace by erecting a toll bridge between publishers and advertisers and charging an unlawfully high price for passage,” the companies write. “Specifically, Google’s Ad Server -- the software or code that publishers use to make critical decisions about advertising content -- imposes anticompetitive rules and conduct that artificially warp the channels through which publishers sell their ad placement inventory.”

Sweepstakes Today also brought a similar antitrust lawsuit against the tech company.

“Google has illegally exploited the opportunities for competitive interference made possible by its control over the various firms that connect publishers and advertisers, to benefit its own properties and harm rival publishers,” Sweepstakes Today alleged in a class-action complaint filed last week in federal court in San Francisco.

The publishers' lawsuits come the same week that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other attorneys general brought similar claims against the company, which now faces antitrust actions on numerous fronts.

The federal government sued Google in October for allegedly monopolizing the search market. Forty-eight attorneys general made similar claims in a separate antitrust lawsuit filed Thursday.

Google has denied the allegations in the governments' lawsuits, and has said it plans to defend itself in court. On Wednesday, the company specifically responded to claims that it rigged online display ad auctions by saying that digital ad prices have fallen in the last decade.

In addition to the lawsuits by law enforcement authorities, Google has been hit with antitrust complaints by private individuals, developers, marketers and publishers. Some predate the recent suits by the government, while others came at around the same time.

Last year, Genius sued Google for allegedly scraping lyrics from Genius' site. A federal judge in New York dismissed that lawsuit in August. Genius has filed paperwork to appeal that ruling to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

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