US judge rejects antitrust claims by advertisers against Google

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A sign is pictured outside a Google office near their corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California, on May 8, 2019. REUTERS / Paresh Dave / File Photo

From Paresh Dave

(Reuters) – A US judge on Thursday dismissed antitrust claims against Alphabet (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc filed by a group of advertisers, but offered them an opportunity to try again after addressing their “serious concerns” had addressed.

District Judge Beth Labson Freeman’s ruling in San Jose, California is one of the first major decisions in a string of antitrust proceedings filed against Google by users and rivals, as well as the US Department of Justice and attorneys general, in the past two years.

Labson Freeman said plaintiffs, including law firm Hanson and Prana Pets, alleged Google was abusing its dominance in digital advertising to clear the market they believe is monopolizing.

“The court is particularly concerned that the plaintiffs’ market is precluding social media display advertising and face-to-face negotiations,” she wrote.

Plaintiffs also need to better explain why Google’s refusal to support competing systems that advertisers rely on is anticompetitive as antitrust law does not mandate monopolists to keep competitors alive, Labson Freeman said.

“The court has serious concerns that some of the plaintiffs’ allegations are based on antitrust theory,” the ruling said.

Plaintiffs have until June 14 to amend their complaint in accordance with the decision.

Google’s lawyers and plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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