Google balks at 'gamesmanship' claims in advertising antitrust case

The Google app logo is seen on a smartphone in this illustration
The Google app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
  • Plaintiffs' lawyers argue Google must disclose more documents
  • Google's attorneys say additional records 'irrelevant' to case

(Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google on Thursday denied claims that it is shirking court orders to disclose thousands of pages of records to class attorneys representing publishers and advertisers alleging antitrust violations in the digital advertising market.

Google's lawyers argued in a filing in Manhattan federal court that the plaintiffs have asked for "irrelevant" records outside the scope of court orders in the advertising multidistrict litigation and that the company has already turned over about 850,000 documents.

The filing from Google's attorneys at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was a response to assertions on Monday in a filing from the plaintiffs' lawyers accusing Google of "gamesmanship and delay."

Google's lawyers in the case did not immediately return a request for comment.

The plaintiffs contend Google has not provided all the documents that the company, in related litigation, gave to a group of states, including Texas, that sued in 2020 over alleged antitrust violations concerning advertising technology, widely known as "ad tech."

A lawyer for the advertiser class, Jordan Elias of San Francisco's Girard Sharp, told Reuters on Thursday that "there is no burden to Google from giving private plaintiffs access to the documents it previously produced to government enforcers."

The plaintiffs' attorneys said in their filing that court orders "did not permit Google to comb over and reexamine its production to the state of Texas to decide for itself what was and was not 'related to ad tech.'"

Google's lawyers, Justina Sessions of Wilson Sonsini and Eric Mahr of Freshfields, fired back in their response that the plaintiffs should not get more documents.

The documents the plaintiffs want "are not relevant to this ad tech case because they concern different subjects such as Google's search engine and mobile operating system," the lawyers told the court.

The case is In re Google Digital Advertising Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:21-md-03010-PKC.

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