Google hit with 2 new antitrust lawsuits from 4 private publishers

Lawsuits allege Google has violated the Sherman Act

Several private publishers filed two antitrust lawsuits against Google this week as the company comes under increasing scrutiny over its advertising and search practices.

Dozens of state attorneys general and the Justice Department also filed two separate antitrust complaints, led by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, respectively, against the tech giant on Thursday and Wednesday, respectively.

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Sweepstakes Today is one of four companies that filed two private lawsuits, which Reuters published online, against Google, alleging that the tech giant has violated the Sherman Act by displaying monopolistic behavior through its digital ad sales.

"Publishers, including Sweepstakes Today, have seen their revenues decline significantly as Google uses their monopoly to horde more and more of the digital advertisement revenues," attorney John Herman of Herman Jones LLC, who is representing Sweepstakes Today, told FOX Business in a statement.

Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

He added that "the lawsuits by private litigants and the enforcement actions by the federal government and the majority of the states should put an end to these market abuses."

Google declined to comment on the two private lawsuits.

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Sweepstakes Today is a publishing website that catalogs sweepstakes events happening throughout the nation so people can easily apply to win prizes.

The company says it made about $150,000 per year for about 10 years before 2012, when Google, "through both acquisitions and vertical integration, began consolidating the various markets that together constitute the online advertising market, driving out rivals, and became a direct horizontal competitor of publishers such as Sweepstakes Today," the complaint reads.

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The complaint also accuses Google of making it nearly impossible for publishers to do business with smaller advertisers that compete with Google.

“Google is now in the unusual position of representing both buyers (advertisers) and sellers (publishers), while also being in control of the exchange (which sets the auction and pricing rules) through which they interact, giving Google the incentive and ability to bias ad auction rules and prices in its own favor, which it has done for many years,” the complaint states.

A Google app in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

In another private lawsuit, Genius Media Group, The Nation and The Progressive also accuse Google of violating the Sherman Act by quashing competitors while it rakes in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from its digital ad sales.

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“Google’s Ad Server—the software or code that publishers use to make critical decisions about advertising content—imposes anti-competitive rules and conduct that artificially warp the channels through which publishers sell their ad placement inventory,” the complaint states.

The antitrust cases brought against Google by state attorneys general and the Justice Department also allege that Google has violated the Sherman Act.

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According to the antitrust complaint that 38 attorneys general brought against Google on Thursday, Google Search has prime placement on more than 90 web browsers, including Google Chrome, the most popular web browser in the U.S., and Apple’s Safari, the complaint states.

It also says Google pays Apple between $8 billion and $12 billion annually under the agreement that Google pay Apple "a significant percentage of the Google search advertising revenue generated on Apple personal computers."

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Google makes up 90% of all Internet searches in the U.S.; by comparison, no other competitor, such as Bing, makes up more than 7% of U.S. Internet searches, according to the lawsuit, and its ad revenue has grown 300% within the last decade. The company's share of the search engine market has not dropped below 85% in 10 years, the complaint says.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser speaks during a news conference in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Google Director of Economic Policy Adam Cohen responded to the federal lawsuit announced Thursday in a blog post defending its search product.

The company said the lawsuit demands that Google make changes to Search that would "prominently feature online middlemen in place of direct connections to businesses" and touted the fact that Google connects users with more than 120 million global businesses.

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"We know that scrutiny of big companies is important and we’re prepared to answer questions and work through the issues. But this lawsuit seeks to redesign Search in ways that would deprive Americans of helpful information and hurt businesses’ ability to connect directly with customers. We look forward to making that case in court," Cohen wrote.

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Google also told FOX Business that Paxton's claims in his complaint announced Wednesday are "meritless", citing recent declines in ad tech prices and fees and noted they will "strongly defend ourselves from his baseless claims in court.”