Google Faces €25bn Lawsuits in United Kingdom, Netherlands

Google is facing damages claims for up to 25 billion euros ($25.4 billion) over its digital advertising practices in two suits to be filed in British and Dutch courts in the coming weeks by a law firm on behalf of publishers.

Google’s advertising technology has recently drawn scrutiny from antitrust regulators following complaints from publishers.

Google
Google homepage, the largest search engine in the world.

The company, which is a key player in the online ad market as well as a dominant force in search, is accused of abusing its power in the ad tech market, which coordinates the sale of online advertising space between publishers and advertisers.

The British claim at the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal will seek to recover compensation for all owners of websites carrying banner advertising, including traditional publishers. Britain has an opt-out regime.

The Dutch claim is open to publishers affected by Google’s actions. Litigation funder Harbour is funding both lawsuits.

The French competition watchdog imposed a 220-million-euro fine on the company last year while the European Commission and its UK peer are investigating whether Google’s adtech business gives it an unfair advantage over rivals and advertisers.

The combined suits are seeking total compensation that, according to estimates from legal representatives, could reach €25bn. The suits are being financed by litigation funding firms in the UK and the Netherlands, which take a cut of any proceeds from a successful case.

A spokesperson for Google said: “Google works constructively with publishers across Europe – our advertising tools, and those of our many adtech competitors, help millions of websites and apps fund their content, and enable businesses of all sizes to effectively reach new customers. These services adapt and evolve in partnership with those same publishers. This lawsuit is speculative and opportunistic. When we receive the complaint, we’ll fight it vigorously.”

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