Google is facing a lawsuit from publishers who claim the company is conspiring to monopolize their markets.
The suit, filed by three former employees of publisher Tuttle Publishing, seeks class-action status and an unspecified amount of damages.
It was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Thursday, three days after Google launched a counterattack against the publishers.
Google, in an e-mailed statement, called the suit “without merit.”
Tuttle’s former head of business development, David K. Gee, said in the lawsuit that Google’s strategy “is not to create a vibrant and innovative marketplace for publishers, but to drive down the price of their products.”
“Google’s plan is to prevent a vibrant, competitive marketplace from being built up in the first place,” K.G. said.
“Google has taken the position that publishers cannot compete on price with Google and that publishers should be able to do whatever they want to do, including exclude their products from Google’s search results.”
The suit seeks class action status and unspecified damages, along with a declaration that Google is violating antitrust laws.
It says Google’s actions, including its search algorithms, “are intended to force publishers to accept the sale of their product at a loss,” and that “Google’s actions are a ‘price’ for the publishers’ exclusion from Google search results and for Google’s monopoly on the sale and delivery of its products.”
Tutanys complaint claims that Google “conspired with the publishers to monopolise the search engine’s search rankings and the prices of their content, thereby suppressing competition and making it difficult for publishers to compete for the right to include their titles in Google’s results.”
Google’s antitrust suit alleges that Tuttle, a publishing company based in New York, is not a “publicly traded corporation” and that the suit has no merit.
Google’s counterclaim in the suit argues that Tutle’s claims are “unfounded” and “without basis in law,” and it says that Google and Tuttle are not connected.
The lawsuit also says that Tutele is “unlawfully prevented” from participating in the “public forum” in which Google’s counter-claims can be raised, and that Google has “no business reason to fear that Tuttles actions may cause Tuttle to become subject to similar action by other publishers.”
The case is scheduled to go to trial this fall.