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11th Circuit Revives Advertising Antitrust Suit Against Google

 |  August 30, 2022

This week the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ruling in favor of Google in an antitrust case brought by a would-be competitor in the online advertising market. 

The panel rejected the lower court’s September 2021 finding that Inform Inc.’s amended complaint was a “shotgun” pleading and that the company lacked standing to bring the suit, while remanding on the issue of sufficiency as to its seven antitrust causes of action.

The 18-page opinion recounted that Inform is a “digital media advertising company” that “manages the distribution and delivery of video advertisements from content creators into articles on newspaper, magazine, radio, and television websites.” At its peak, Inform reportedly managed ad space for approximately 5,000 publishers.

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U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee threw outInform’s amended complaint last year, determining that the lawsuit included“numerous conclusory, vague and immaterial facts not obviously connected to any particular cause of action.”

Inform claims that Google uses its dominance in overlapping markets to “wipe out competition and drive its online ad sales.”

At the heart of the complaint were decisions Google and YouTube made in 2015 to switch the software used to play videos on websites from proprietary digital software developed by Adobe, Flash, to HTML5. Despite the latter being open-source, the change allegedly handed Google more control over “how, when, and what videos are played.”

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