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Google Sues Visa and MasterCard Over High Interchange Fees

Google hit Visa and MasterCard with a new lawsuit in federal court last week, accusing the payment card brands of violating federal antitrust law by charging “supracompetitive” interchange fees, Law360 reported.

According to Google’s complaint, between Jan. 1, 2004, and Nov. 28, 2012, Google accepted payments from customers using MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards, both of which required Google to pay interchange rates above what a competitive market would allow. Google claims the card companies violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by imposing such high fees, but didn’t specify how much it is seeking in damages.

The three-page complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Google opted out of a multibillion-dollar 2013 class action settlement that would have prevented it from suing the card brands over interchange fees or card-brand rules. That settlement was originally valued at $7.25 billion, to be split among all merchants that accepted Visa and MasterCard cards.

However, merchants responsible for about 25 percent of U.S. card payment volume opted out of the settlement, many of them large retailers. Some, including Wal-Mart, Target and Macy’s, have since sued Visa and MasterCard individually or in smaller groups. A total of more than 30 lawsuits have been filed since the mass exodus from the settlement, but some have since been separately settled by the card brands.