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U.S. judge dismisses advertisers' antitrust claims against Google

May 13 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed antitrust claims against Alphabet Inc’s Google brought by a group of advertisers, though offered them a chance to try again after addressing her “serious concerns.”

The ruling by District Judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose, California marks one of the first major decisions in a spate of antitrust cases filed against Google over the last two years by users and rivals as well as the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys generals.

Labson Freeman said plaintiffs, including Hanson Law Firm and Prana Pets, that alleged Google abuses its dominance in digital advertising need to clarify the market they think it monopolizes.

“The Court is particularly concerned that Plaintiffs’ market excludes social media display advertising and direct negotiations,” she wrote.

The plaintiffs also need to better explain why Google’s refusal to support rival systems that the advertisers rely upon is anticompetitive, because antitrust law does not require monopolists to help competitors survive, Labson Freeman said.

“The Court has serious concerns that some of Plaintiffs’ allegations rely on a ‘duty to deal’ theory of antitrust,” her decision stated.

Plaintiffs have until June 14 to amend their lawsuit, according to the decision.

Attorneys for Google and the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by Paresh Dave; editing by Jane Wardell)

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