U.S. decide dismisses advertisers’ antitrust claims in opposition to Google

A sign is pictured outside a Google office near the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, the United States, on May 8, 2019. REUTERS / Paresh Dave /

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed antitrust claims against Google by Alphabet Inc. filed by a group of advertisers, but offered them an opportunity to try again after addressing what they said labeled “Serious Concerns”.

District Judge Beth Labson Freeman’s ruling in San Jose, Calif., Is one of the first major rulings in a string of antitrust proceedings filed against Google in the past two years by users and rivals, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice and prosecutors general.

Labson Freeman said plaintiffs, including law firm Hanson and Prana Pets, alleged Google was abusing its dominance in digital advertising to clarify which market they think they are monopolizing.

“The court is particularly concerned that the plaintiffs’ market is precluding social media display advertising and face-to-face negotiations,” she wrote.

Plaintiffs also need to better explain why Google’s refusal to support competing systems that advertisers rely on is anticompetitive as antitrust law does not mandate monopolists to keep competitors alive, Labson Freeman said.

“The court has serious concerns that some of the plaintiffs’ allegations are based on antitrust theory,” she wrote.

Plaintiffs have until June 14 to amend their complaint in accordance with the decision.

Google’s lawyers and plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In other cases, Google is blamed for its dominance in the search and mobile software business. First decisions in these cases could be years away. For example, a federal judge in Texas heard arguments earlier this month about whether a trial should be scheduled for the spring of 2022, as preferred by states that filed the lawsuit, or the 2023 case, as Google requests.

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