In a pair of reply briefs filed earlier this week, defendants Alphabet and Google said that the business plaintiffs alleging unfair practices, including monopoly, tying, and exclusive dealing, are advancing meritless claims. In one reply, the tech titan seeks dismissal of all the state and federal antitrust claims, and in its motion to strike reply asks for elimination of the class allegations as invalid.
The complaint, filed in April, asserts that “Google has forced users of its digital-mapping products—services that have become ubiquitous through rapid and competitively close acquisitions—into a bundle of services. Then, once locked in, Google ratchets up the cost on its maps products.” The plaintiffs are businesses that use Google mapping services, including application programming interfaces (APIs), to display or use maps or maps-related information on their websites or mobile applications.
They claim that Google uses its contractual terms to force businesses to purchase services they would not and dually, uses its market power in the digital mapping market to charge higher prices for those services. “Direct victims of these alleged anticompetitive schemes are … those who have purchased Maps APIs, Routes APIs, or Places APIs, or had their free credits provided by Google used up more rapidly because of Maps APIs, Routes APIs, or Places APIs,” the filing says.
Their complaint states five causes of action under the Sherman Act, the Clayton Act, and California’s Unfair Competition Law.
Google’s dismissal bids knocked the plaintiffs’ “scattershot” complaint as “lacking any plausible anticompetitive conduct.” The reply brief said the plaintiffs’ also fail to aver a valid relevant product market or that Google has market power in that market.
As to its motion to strike, Google contended that the alleged class includes people who could not have suffered a cognizable injury because they purchased nothing from Google at all. The company added that in order to identify certain class members, and in violation of class action requirements, their claims would need to be resolved on the merits first.
The dismissal hearing is scheduled for September 30 before Judge Jeffrey S. White.
The plaintiffs and putative class are represented by ESQGo PC, Nematzadeh PLLC, and Balestriere Fariello and Google by Jones Day.