Geradin Partners, which acted for complainants in a previous French Competition Authority case against Google, announced on Tuesday that it will bring two lawsuits against the search engine giant in the UK and the Netherlands.
Google could face hefty damage claims of up to €25B in the two suits to be filed in the coming weeks due to alleged unfair advertising practices.
In 2021, the French Competition Authority imposed a fine of €220M on Google for abusing its dominant position by engaging in various forms of self-preferencing in breach of Article 102 TFEU.
The US tech giant used its publisher ad servers by favouring its ad exchange and had used its ad exchange to favour its publisher ad server. However, Google didn’t dispute the facts of the French case.
This is the second time Google’s adtech has been targeted in an antitrust complaint by the European Publishers Council over its digital advertising business this year.
The publishers’ trade body, including Axel Springer, News UK, Conde Nast, Bonnier News, and Editorial Prensa Iberica, took its grievance to the European Commission, alleging Google has an adtech stranglehold over press publishers, reports Reuter.
“Google has achieved end-to-end control of the ad tech value chain, boasting market shares as high as 90-100% in segments of the ad tech chain,” EPC Chairman Christian Van Thillo said in a statement.
Geradin Partners to lead
Geradin Partners, which acted for complainants in the French Competition Authority case, is also leading the UK and the Netherlands damages actions.
Damien Geradin of Geradin Partners says, “Publishers, including local and national news media who play a vital role in our society, have long been harmed by Google’s anti-competitive conduct. It is time that Google owns up to its responsibilities and pays back the damages it has caused to this important industry. That is why today we are announcing these actions across two jurisdictions to obtain compensation for EU and UK publishers.”
In the Netherlands, the law firm has teamed up with the Dutch law firm Stek to bring a collective claim representing EU publishers. For the UK, Geradin Partners has teamed up with litigation law firm Humphries Kerstetter to bring an opt-out collective damages claim in the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal.
“The UK claim will focus on recovering compensation for lost revenue from selling advertising space on the websites of all class members,” says Geradin Partners.
Google criticised the imminent lawsuits, saying it works constructively with European publishers, reports Reuters.
“This lawsuit is speculative and opportunistic. When we receive the complaint, we’ll fight it vigorously,” says Google’s spokesperson.
In another context, France fined Google €500M last year over a dispute with the country’s news publishers. However, the search giant signed a new agreement in March this year to pay French publishers for the right to display their news content online.