Google denies Facebook collusion claims
Google denies Facebook collusion claims

Google Friday filed a motion to dismiss the antitrust complaint that was filed against the company by a coalition of state attorneys. The motion denied the allegation that Google colluded with Facebook to manipulate programmatic ad markets in a collaborative project codenamed “Jedi Blue.”

The suit claimed that the project intended to limit ad header bidding practices and alleged that publishers are forced to use Google’s ad server to access its ad exchange. The allegations also claimed that Google has held back rivals from using its Open Bidding program and that it rigged ad auctions to favor Facebook.

In its motion to dismiss, Google argued that the claims were largely untimely. The company argued that the doctrine of laches bars the claims that have ceased to exist and that injunctive relief is not available for such claims. Further, Google strongly disavowed involvement in any anti-competitive practice and relied on cases to show that “to safeguard the incentive to innovate, the possession of monopoly power will not be found unlawful unless it is accompanied by an element of anticompetitive conduct.”

Google also claimed that, despite amassing a lengthy collection of grievances, each grievance comes down to a plea for Google to share its data or to design its products in ways that would help its rivals. The motion stated that

The Sherman Act requires no such thing. None of the conduct alleged in the [complaint] falls into the narrow exception to the general rule that any firm may choose with whom it will deal, and courts are rightly skeptical of challenges to how a company designs its own products, especially when innovation creates more choices for consumers.

Google further challenged the allegation of forcing publishers to use its ad server. The claimants admitted that Google offered “exchange-only contracts” until 2018, which indicated that Google allowed publishers to contract for its ad exchange without taking its ad server. Thus, there was no tie during that period and the element of coercion was absent.

Adam Cohen, Google’s director of economic policy, affirmed Google’s position that the charges do not meet the legal bar for bringing the matter to trial and misrepresent the company, which is based on unviable antitrust accusations.