Google faces €25 billion fine from UK and Dutch publishers
Google is in a pickle. The tech giant may have to pay billions of euros in damages to publishers. Two lawsuits will soon be filed in UK and Dutch courts claiming damages of up to €25 billion ($25.4 billion). The lawsuits will be in retaliation to Google's alleged use of unfair advertising practices. Google has denied the allegations.
- Google is no stranger to anti-competitive lawsuits. The company has faced similar actions all over the world.
- The firm's technology is used by several media organizations to sell advertisements on their website and apps. Many allege that Google uses this to its own advantage and to the detriment of rivals and publishers.
- The new lawsuits will certainly determine how Google conducts business in Europe.
In the UK, where there is an opt-out system, the lawsuit will seek to recover compensation for owners of websites with banner advertisements, including traditional publishers. The claim will be filed at the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal. The Dutch claim, on the other hand, will be an all-encompassing one. It is open to any publisher affected by Google's actions.
Google has drawn the ire of competition watchdogs over its advertising practices. Last year, Autorité de la concurrence, the French competition regulator imposed a €220 million fine on the company. Similarly, the Competition and Markets Authority of the UK and the European Commission are also investigating whether Google's adtech service gives it an unfair advantage over publishers and rivals.
The upcoming lawsuits against Google are funded by Harbour Litigation Funding, a privately-owned litigation funder based in the UK. A law firm called Geradin Partners will lead the litigation in both the UK and Netherlands. It will team up with law firms Humphries Kerstetter in the UK and Stek in the Netherlands. Geradin Partners accuses Google of depriving media organizations of billions in revenue.
Damian Geradin of Geradin Partners did not mince his words while talking about the upcoming lawsuits against Google. He said, "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," he added.
Google, as expected, is not thrilled about the imminent lawsuits. It called the claims "speculative and opportunistic." The company said that it has been working constructively with publishers in Europe. It added that it won't back down and will fight the claims vigorously.