SAN JOSE, March 28, 2018 – Dreamstime, established online provider of stock photography services and operator of the largest online community of stock photography creators and consumers, announced today that it filed a lawsuit in the federal district court in San Jose, California against Internet online search advertising giant Google. The Complaint sets forth claims for unlawful monopolization in violation of federal antitrust law, breaches of the contract between Dreamstime and Google, and unfair competition.
Through its industry-leading platform (https://www.dreamstime.com) and mobile app, Dreamstime gives consumers the ability to search millions of high quality digital images consisting of photographs, illustrations, clip art, and vectors, and to license the images that meet the consumers’ needs. As more fully set forth in its Complaint, Dreamstime has been a long-time customer of Google’s AdWords and DisplayAds online advertising services. Dreamstime has, since approximately 2006, paid Google over $50 million for these advertising services.
However, as further alleged in the Complaint, Google has wielded its market power (estimated to exceed 75% of the online search advertising market) to discriminatorily benefit itself and its licensing partners in downstream dependent businesses, by giving itself and them higher search rankings while lowering the search rankings of Dreamstime and others to the point that they are essentially invisible. More specifically, among other anticompetitive conduct alleged in the Complaint: Google has altered its search algorithm – or at least, how that algorithm was applied to Dreamstime and others who are not favored by Google – to unfairly prejudice and handicap Dreamstime and others who are not Google’s licensing partners.
Dreamstime’s CEO and co-founder, Serban Enache, explained, “The purpose and goal of our lawsuit is to eliminate unfair bias and favoritism from Google’s online search advertising services and to create a much-needed level playing field so online vendors can legitimately compete on the quality, selection, and prices of their online services and products.”
Dreamstime’s lawsuit describes the significant harm of Google’s alleged discriminatory and anticompetitive practices as: “Google’s acts have threatened to drive many competitors out of the business and created technological barriers to entry into the market which keep out potential new entrants. Moreover, they have generated confusion in the marketplace and created an online stock photography industry with fewer choices for consumers, diminished pricing competition and reduced innovation. All of these effects are a direct result of Google’s injury to competition.”
Recently, on June 27, 2017, the European Commission fined Google a record €2.42 billion for “breaching EU antitrust rules” by abusing its dominance in online search services to promote its own Google Shopping service. This case, which involves Google Images instead of Google Shopping, is strikingly similar to the EU case in many respects. In earlier investigations, both the United States Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have recognized Google to be a monopolist in the relevant antitrust market of online search advertising. Dreamstime’s antitrust lawsuit follows on the heels of the EU’s investigation and fine.
Jaime Marquart, a co-founding partner of Baker Marquart LLP in Los Angeles, and antitrust counsel representing Dreamstime, commented, “The antitrust claim in this civil lawsuit is a direct challenge to Google’s maintenance and exploitation of its entrenched monopoly over online search advertising and the injurious effects it is causing to its customers, such as Dreamstime, as well as ultimate consumers of Google’s search services.” Dreamstime’s lawsuit seeks to recover up to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages that Dreamstime has sustained as a consequence of Google’s illegal conduct and to obtain an injunction prohibiting Google from continuing to engage in monopolistic and unfair business practices in the future.
About Dreamstime Dreamstime is a distinguished leader in stock photography, a major supplier of high quality digital images to the world’s largest advertising agencies, national and international magazines, and film and television production companies including Coca Cola, Autodesk, Random House, Samsung, The Discovery Channel, Random House Bertelsmann, the Financial Times, and many more. With over 75 million images, Dreamstime has the largest customer base in the world (over 20 million users to date) and more than 12 million unique visitors monthly to the site. In addition to the almost one million free images available, Dreamstime’s active gallery is updated by the second with photos from the site’s 400,000 plus contributors. For more information on Dreamstime, please visit: https://www.dreamstime.com/.