Noerr advises Corint Media in antitrust proceedings against Google News Show-case

On 4 June 2021, the Federal Cartel Office announced that it had initiated proceedings against Alphabet and its affiliates (Google) acting on a complaint brought by Corint Media in October 2020. The investigation concerns Google’s new service “News Showcase”, and it is mainly based on the authority’s competences under a new statutory provision applicable to large digital companies (Section 19a of the German Act Against Restraints of Competition). These provisions enable the authority to intervene earlier and more effectively than in the past against anticompetitive practices of large digital companies.

The managing directors of Corint Media, Christoph Schwennicke and Markus Runde, commented on the initiation of the proceedings as follows: “Following the justified redefinition of the legal framework between content providers and content-using platforms – on both a European and national scale – through the amendment of antitrust law and the introduction of ancillary rights for press publishers, the opening of these proceedings is the next important step for the concrete application of the law. Global tech companies also have to operate within the legal and regulatory frameworks that we have established in non-violent democracies. Violations of these legal frame-works require systematic processing and prosecution.”

Noerr partner Karsten Metzlaff, who has advised Corint Media for many years, adds: “In these proceedings, the issue is that Google wants to push a news service to the market using its enormous market power, thereby depriving news publishers of their commercial basis. This ultimately puts at risk the diversity of published opinions in Germany. Obviously, there is nothing to be said against new offerings being brought to the market. But there needs to be a level playing field, and Google has to play by the same rules as anyone else. Lawmakers have given the Federal Cartel Office a new sword in the form of Section 19a of the German Act Against Restraints of Competition to hold in check the market power of the large digital corporations. The present proceedings will show whether this sword is sharp enough.”

Noerr has frequently advised Corint Media over many years on issues of antitrust and company law.

Advisors to Corint Media: Noerr

Prof Karsten Metzlaff, Dr Till Steinvorth, Dr Lucas Gasser