Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Google Hit With More Antitrust Charges Over Advertising

A French Internet company 1plusV has filed a complaint with the European Commission claiming Google Inc. is abusing its dominant market position to stop smaller competitors from generating advertising revenues.

1plusV is the parent company of  French search engine eJustice.fr. which offers users a thematic search engine but claims it has been forced to adopt Google technology to access commercially vital advertising services. The Versailles-based firm is a competitor to Google's own thematic search but has claimed Google forced thematic search engines to adopt its own technology if they wanted to use its advertising service, thus limiting the development of alternative technologies.

The company also claims that Google ignored requests by certain websites not to be listed among search results, which gave it a competitive advantage over search engines that did respect those requests. 1plusV is also claiming that Google is prioritizing its own vertical, or thematic, searches for books over those of competitors, without visually differentiating them from the rest of the searches.

The European commission opened an investigation into the market dominance of Google last November after months of mounting complaints.Under those charges the commission was investigating whether Google lowered the position among unpaid results of services with which it competes, such as price comparison or specialized search, and placed its own services higher to shut out competition. The commission is also investigating allegations that Google lowered its quality score for sponsored, or paid, links of competing search services.

"We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission, explaining many aspects of our business. We believe there is always room for improvement, so we are working to address any potential concerns," said Google spokesman Al Verney, referring to the new complaint on Tuesday.

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