Court Rejects Google’s Attempt to Dismiss State AG Antitrust Case

On September 13, Judge P. Kevin Castel released an opinion and order denying in part and granting in part Google’s motion to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit filed against it by 17 states and territories. The suit focuses on Google’s anticompetitive conduct in the digital advertising market. The decision denied the motion to dismiss with regards to the majority of the allegations, with Judge Castel only finding that the Attorneys General had failed to sufficiently plead the allegation that Google’s cooperation agreement with Meta was an unlawful restraint of trade. The states had, however, plausibly alleged that Google had used its market power to force publishers to license its publisher ad server, monopolized the market for publisher ad servers, ad exchanges, and ad-buying tools for small advertisers, and attempted to monopolize the market for ad buying tools for large advertisers, among other claims. With regards to some of the specific allegations, the court found plausible the allegations that Google’s use of dynamic allocation and enhanced dynamic allocation, dynamic revenue sharing, unified pricing policy, and redaction of auction data and limitations on publisher line items were all anticompetitive, while the State AGs had failed to sufficiently allege their challenges to exchange bidding or AMP. The court also found that the challenge against Google’s Privacy Sandbox is not ripe for adjudication. In evaluating motions to dismiss, courts accept non-conclusory allegations as true and determine whether they plausibly allege claims for relief. The case is one of multiple ongoing antitrust cases against Google and Facebook, many of which have been consolidated in the Southern District of New York. Read the full decision here.

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