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California judge dismisses antitrust suit brought against Google by Prana Pets and other advertisers

17 May 2021

Judge Beth Labson Freeman: 'Antitrust law does not require monopolists to help competitors survive.'

In one of the first major decisions in a string of antitrust lawsuits brought against Google in the past 2 years, District Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the US District Court for the Northern District of California today dismissed the suit brought by Prana Pets and other advertisers alleging that Google abuses its dominance in digital advertising.

Judge Labson Freeman said the plaintiffs need to clarify which market they think Google monopolizes, and better explain why Google's refusal to support competitors' systems on which the advertisers rely is anticompetitive, because antitrust law does not require monopolists to help competitors survive.

In her decision, Judge Labson Freeman went on to say that "The Court has serious concerns that some of Plaintiffs' allegations rely on a 'duty to deal' theory of antitrust" - that is, the idea that Google violates antitrust law simply by preferring its own content to that of competitors, has a duty to return search results based on an "objective" standard, and may not display its own content more prominently.

The judge has given the plaintiffs until 14 June 2021 to submit an amended suit that addresses these concerns.

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