Germany’s Axel Springer Wins Partial Court Victory Against Adblock Plus

axelABPappealimgAfter a string of court losses, Axel Springer finally landed a blow on Eyeo’s Adblock Plus (ABP). On Friday, a German court granted the German publishing giant a partial victory in its appeal of a previous decision.

In question was ABP’s Acceptable Ads initiative, an open source ad-block revenue channel (meaning other ad blockers can plug it directly into their own services and monetize using the same software). Acceptable Ads gives ABP 30% of all revenue from ads served to its users, but only from publishers who receive at least 10 million additional impressions per month via Acceptable Ads.

The court didn’t rule against the Acceptable Ads business model, but it did decide that Axel Springer shouldn’t fall into the category of publishers that pay for whitelisting.

Axel Springer’s only comment on the decision comes from Claas-Hendrik Soehring, the company’s head of content and commercial law, who said, “We are happy that the court declared the specific business model of Adblock Plus illegal.”

Though the ruling is specific to Axel Springer, there’s no reason other publishers that qualify for whitelisting charges – German publishers, at least – can’t follow the same legal playbook. The court’s decision may be limited, but it’s clearly antagonistic to Acceptable Ads, comparing ABP to an out-of-home advertising vendor that tears down its partners’ billboards.

ABP operations manager Ben Williams gives little credence to the charge of having an anticompetitive model, writing in a response that “Axel Springer is a multi-billion-dollar digital publishing house which owns a majority of the daily newspapers in Germany, and whose tentacles operations stretch out over 40 countries worldwide.”

Both ABP and Axel Springer say they are intent on seeing the case through to the Federal Court of Justice, Germany’s equivalent to the Supreme Court.

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