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Photo: Scott Olson/Getty

Lawyers for 6 major hotel chains on Wednesday asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by an online travel agency accusing them of colluding to stifle bidding for rooms.

What's happening: TravelPass Group accused chains like Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott of squeezing small internet travel agencies out of the online market for room booking. The case comes as public pressure is mounting against the concentration of market power across industries, from technology to agriculture, airlines and banking.

  • In the hotels case, TravelPass says that starting in 2014, the chains worked together to block it and other online agencies from bidding on the internet search keywords that underlie the room booking business.

How it's supposed to work: When you type words into your search engine — like, say, Hilton and Bahamas — an invisible bidding war takes place among hotels and agencies to fill your desire. Ads appear above and alongside your search.

  • But Austin Lowe, a lawyer for TravelPass, tells Axios that the alleged scheme resulted in its ads not appearing. As a result, its $165 million valuation cratered to $25 million, the lawsuit says.

In the hearing today, the hotels asked a judge to dismiss the suit, or to move it to another jurisdiction. Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott all declined to comment.

Go deeper

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to coronavirus pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Azar says deadly Capitol siege could "tarnish" Trump administration's legacy — Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

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