updated 04:05 pm EST, Wed February 24, 2010
Google denying European antitrust complaints
Google is facing new antitrust complaints in a court in Europe from competing companies who are asking for concessions from the Internet giant. According to a Wednesday New York Times report, the European antitrust regulators are asking Google questions, which were brought upon by allegations against Google from three companies that include a unit of Microsoft. Google is standing firm, saying it has not done anything wrong and will not consider doing anything to grant the requests of the complainants.
Google is keen on stopping the investigation before it begins, as once the European Commission invests time and money into a formal investigation, it will be more likely to want to produce tangible results, industry experts believe.
Google has more than an 80 percent market share in some European countries for Internet searches and advertising linked to them. In Italy, Google is undergoing an antitrust investigation started by newspaper publishers who say Google unfairly keeps them from making money from online advertising. Germany has a similar case ongoing, while a government-commissioned panel in France recently also began a similar inquiry.
Foundem and Ejustice.fr allege Google plays down their sites in its search results. Google says Ciao!, a long-term partner of Google's AdSense service, began complaining only after being acquired by Microsoft in 2008. It has issues with Google's terms and conditions, but does not detail them.
Foundem is more specific, saying Google is skewing the results of its search technology towards Google's own services that include maps, news, YouTube, book and product search services.
The European Commission is thus far only collecting the facts, and has not yet committed to launching a formal investigation.