By Paresh Dave
OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – Online publishers including Genius Media Group and news website The Nation alleged in a lawsuit seeking class-action status on Wednesday that Alphabet Inc’s Google has unlawfully stifled advertising competition, hurting their businesses.
Genius, which provides song lyrics, and two online magazines the Nation and the Progressive, said they used Google software to sell ads but received what they viewed as an unfair split of sales because the search giant had taken over the market.
“Through its campaign of anticompetitive conduct, Google has achieved and maintained a monopoly or near-monopoly in (the) marketplace by erecting a toll bridge between publishers and advertisers and charging an unlawfully high price for passage,” the lawsuit stated.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the company repeatedly has responded to similar accusations by saying that Facebook Inc and other companies offer competitive services to media companies.
The plaintiffs ask the court to order Google to divest its unit that makes the ad-selling software and refrain from competing in that business. They also seek punitive damages.
The complaint is the latest among several antitrust actions brought against Google by online advertisers or other businesses that say they have been affected by Google’s growing clout. The Texas-led lawsuit covers many of their concerns, too, and separately at least 36 states plan to sue Google on Thursday over additional anticompetitive conduct on the web.
Genius last year in a lawsuit accused Google of breaching a contract by using lyrics data in search results, but a judge dismissed the case in August.
(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christopher Cushing)