Google has been sued by a group of British website publishers who allege the US company and its parent Alphabet abused their dominant position in online advertising, depriving them of revenue.
The class action claim was filed at a Competition Appeal tribunal on behalf of 130,000 businesses publishing around 1.75 million websites and apps in Britain, law firms Humphries Kerstetter and Geradin Partners said. Google dismissed the lawsuit in a statement.
"Google works constructively with publishers across Europe — our advertising tools, and those of our many adtech competitors, help millions of websites and apps fund their content, and enable businesses of all sizes to effectively reach new customers. These services adapt and evolve in partnership with those same publishers. This lawsuit is speculative and opportunistic," a spokesperson said.
The online advertising market has been investigated by regulators in Britain, the EU, and the US, and a €150m fine imposed on Google by France's competition watchdog was upheld earlier this year.
Toby Starr, a partner at Humphries Kerstetter which is leading the claim, said multiple investigations into Google's advertising practices were under way.
"However, none of these regulatory actions will do anything to compensate the UK publishers of thousands of websites and mobile apps who have lost billions in advertising revenue because of Google's actions," he said.
"The only way to recoup these losses is through a competition class action."
The action is in parallel with an EU claim that is expected to be filed in the Netherlands next year, the law firms said.
The law firms said economic analysis produced for the claim suggested that Google's action may have reduced advertising revenue by up to 40% for some companies.