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Google hit by £13.6 billion lawsuit over alleged "self-preferencing" and anticompetitive behaviour

Ad Tech Collective Action LLP is taking Google to court, though a date has yet to be set
Google hit by £13.6 billion lawsuit over alleged
  • Google faces a £13.6 billion lawsuit for allegedly promoting itself over rivals
  • Google’s parent Alphabet is hoping to see the "incoherent" case dropped

Google is facing a £13.6 billion lawsuit from Ad Tech Collective Action LLP concerning alleged anti-competitive behaviour and excessive control over the online advertising market.

This behaviour has caused online publishers to lose money in the UK, Ad Tech Collective Action LLP claims, arguing that Google has abused its status as the dominant web search platform.

The case argues that Google’s dominance is reducing the income of other websites due to "self-preferencing", with the tech giant promoting itself over rivals.

The BBC reported on the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s ruling that this case can proceed to trial.

The court case cometh

Google’s parent Alphabet is hoping to see the "incoherent" case dropped, which has been described by the company’s legal director Oliver Bethell as a "speculative and opportunistic" lawsuit that Google will oppose "vigorously and on the facts".

It’s an opt-out case, meaning every relevant UK publisher is included unless they choose not to be part of it. Furthermore, there are no costs to publishers forming part of the claim, as an anonymous third-party is funding all participation expenses.

No court date has yet been set, however.

"This is a decision of major importance to the victims of Google’s anti-competitive conduct in adtech," said Ad Tech Collective Action partner and former Ofcom director Claudio Pollack. "Google will now have to answer for its practices in a full trial."

"I look forward to working with our legal and economic advisers to deliver compensation for years during which the relevant markets did not provide a competitive outcome for the UK publishing market."

This adtech suit is far from the only legal challenge Google has faced in recent times. The tech giant lost its monopoly lawsuit to Epic Games last December over app distribution and billing on Android, and has been the subject of a DMA investigation in the EU this spring over potential rule-breaking.