Robinson Communications is taking two tech giants for allegedly crippling the country’s newspaper industry, according to a complaint filed in the West District of Washington on Monday. Filing accused Google LLC of exercising its monopoly on the digital advertising market and that both Google and Facebook Inc. illegally conspired to engage in anti-competitive behavior in accordance with the so-called Jedi Blue Agreement. Configure an automatic violation of the Sherman Act.
Complaints follow the recent integration of similar cases leveled by advertisers, publishers, and the state attorney general. In its multi-district lawsuit currently underway in Southern New York, news publishers have also accused Google, not Facebook, of monopolizing and curbing competition in the online display advertising market.
In this week’s filing, Robinson claims that newspaper advertising revenue, which is essential for funding high-quality journalism, has fallen by more than 50% since 2006. Specifically, for plaintiffs, they once employed more than 400 workers, had a circulation of well over 100,000, and printed three editions each week. However, as a result of the defendant’s misconduct, Robinson was forced to suspend all print editions of the newspaper in April 2021.
Plaintiffs allege that Google’s actions were the direct cause of its decline, including establishing itself as an exclusive intermediary between newspapers and their online readers and undermining vertical search providers. In addition, a rival in the digital advertising market alleges that in September 2018, through a secret agreement codenamed Jedi Blue, they colluded to further establish global dominance.
Both parties reportedly agreed that Facebook would largely forgo its planned debut in header bidding.[ing] Each time a user visits a web page, they display their inventory on multiple neutral exchanges in order to return the highest bid for the inventory. Google reportedly saw header bidding as a threat to the exchange’s ability to significantly reduce all advertising transactions. In exchange for Facebook’s abstinence, Google has agreed to give Facebook preferential treatment at auction, the complaint said.
The filings include two claims for relief under the Sherman Act. Robinson demands declarative and injunctive remedies, damages, including triple damages, and attorneys’ fees and expense arbitrage. Plaintiffs are represented by Herman Jones LLP, Farrell & Fuller LLC, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, and Fitzsimmons Law Firm PLLC.
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