Google Asks Judge To Dismiss Most Of Texas Antitrust Case

Google has asked a federal judge to dismiss most counts in an antitrust lawsuit filed by Texas and other US states over its alleged abuse of its dominance in the online advertising market.

In a court filing the Alphabet-owned company said the states failed to show it had illegally worked with Facebook/Meta to compete against “header bidding”, a technology publishers developed to make more money from advertising on their websites.

Facebook has not been named as a defendant in the case.

The case also alleges that Google used at least three programmes to manipulate ad auctions in order to coerce advertisers and publishers into using Google’s tools.

‘No proof’

Google said the states had a “collection of grievances” but no proof of wrongdoing. On some counts Google said the states had also waited too long to file the suit.

“They criticise Google for not designing its products to better suit its rivals’ needs and for making improvements to those products that leave its competitors too far behind.

“They see the ‘solution’ to Google’s success as holding Google back, rather than letting market forces urge its competitors forward,” the company said in the filing.

The company asked for four of the six counts to be dismissed with prejudice, meaning they could not be brought back to the same court.

The two other claims are based on state law and were stayed in September. Google did ask for them to be dismissed but reserved the right to do so.

Google and other large tech companies are facing a long list of federal and state antitrust actions, in addition to proposed legislation aimed at limiting their market sway and pressure from overseas regulators.

Antitrust action

Last week such an antitrust bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee, meaning it will advance to consideration by the full chamber.

Like a similar bill in the House of Representatives that has also advanced out of the committee stage, the Senate bill aims to prevent big tech companies from favouring their own products and services on their platforms over those of competitors.

Amongst other provisions, companies would be barred from ranking their apps higher in search results or in their own mobile app stores, or using a business’ private data to offer competing products or services.

“In recent years, Big Tech has taken on a larger and larger role in determining what Americans buy, hear, see and say online,” said Senator Chuck Grassley, who co-wrote the bill with Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the antitrust committee.

The bill is intended not to break up companies but “to prevent conduct that stifles competition”, he said.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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