App Makers’ Antitrust Suit Against Facebook Paused

A California federal judge has put fact-finding on hold in an antitrust lawsuit brought by app developers against Facebook until the court’s upcoming hearing on the social media giant’s dismissal bid, reported Law 360. 

US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman found Friday that Facebook had offered a solid enough argument for tossing the case — which will be hashed out at a June 11 hearing — and no further discovery would be needed for her to rule on the motion.

A temporary discovery stay is warranted when there is a plausible argument for dismissal and further fact-finding isn’t necessary to make a decision on the dismissal bid, she said.

“Facebook’s motion to dismiss presents strong arguments, which could prove difficult for plaintiffs to overcome, even considering that leave to amend is freely given,” Judge Freeman said. Additionally, the social media titan’s dismissal bid “is based solely on the allegations in the complaint and does not raise any factual issues,” so it “can be decided without additional discovery,” she said.

App developers led by Reveal Chat Hold,  the owner of LikeBright, a dating app with a focus on women’s safety,  allege in a proposed class suit that Facebook has carried out a multi-pronged strategy for stifling rivals, including making it difficult for apps to function on its platform and gobbling up competitors like Instagram and WhatsApp.

According to the complaint filed in January, the “brazen scheme” was laid bare by an NBC News story published in November, which the developers said revealed that top Facebook executives made efforts to crush competitors and potential rivals between 2011 and 2015.

Facebook asked the court to throw out the case in March contending the allegations were filed too late and are too hypothetical. At the same time, the social media company asked for discovery to be paused until the court rules on the motion.

Reveal Chat and the others panned Facebook’s effort to stay discovery as “a flippant grab bag of single-sentence and non-dispositive arguments,” insisting that the dismissal bid is “not even close” to being successful.

Judge Freeman disagreed in Friday’s decision, although she didn’t grant Facebook’s stay bid in full, finding it was more appropriate to hold off on any further fact-finding only until after the June hearing. She said Facebook can request an extension after the hearing if it wants.

Full Content: Law 360,

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