In an unusually heated missive, Google strongly criticized a Texas antitrust case against it as it asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed.
“This lawsuit has now been rewritten three times,” Google director Adam Cohen explains. “With each version, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton follows the same pattern: make inaccurate and inflammatory allegations, publicize them widely, and repeat. This playbook may generate attention, but it doesn’t make for a credible antitrust lawsuit.”
Google has filed a motion with a U.S. District Court in New York to have the Texas case, which alleges that Google abuses its monopoly power in online advertising, dismissed. To Cohen’s point, the lawsuit, which involves sixteen other U.S. states, has been amended three times since it was originally filed in December 2020, most recently in mid-November, when the AG noted “substantial additional evidence that underscores Google’s monopoly power and its abuse of that power.”
“AG Paxton’s allegations are more heat than light,” Cohen writes, “and we don’t believe they meet the legal standard to send this case to trial. The complaint misrepresents our business, products, and motives, and we are moving to dismiss it based on its failure to offer plausible antitrust claims.”
According to Google, Texas and the other states are asking Google to share user data and design its products in a way that would benefit its competitors. The ad industry, Google says, is “highly dynamic” and the firm faces “countless competitors” that have lowered fees, encouraged further competition, increased investments, and led to expanded options for advertisers and publishers.
Google further says its ad auctions are fair, that bidding is thriving, and that it doesn’t force publishers to use its ad server to access its ad exchange. Or, as the Texas AG puts it, Google has employed “unlawful monopoly conduct” to “secretly manipulate the largest auction market in the world to the detriment of competition, publishers, advertisers, and consumers.” Two sides of the same coin, I guess.
Google also addresses another aspect of the Texas lawsuit, that it and Facebook have “colluded” to help each other co-dominate the online ad space and keep out other competitors. And it has given the court the full text of its agreement with Facebook to refute Paxton’s claims. “This is far from a secret deal,” Cohen explains. “This is a pro-competitive agreement, [Facebook’s] involvement is not exclusive, [and] we do not manipulate the auction.”