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Google sued in France for $421m over anti-competitive claims

updated 12:45 pm EDT, Tue June 28, 2011

1plusV sues Google over search results

Google's legal woes have accelerated Tuesday as French search site network 1plusV has sued Google in Paris' Commercial court for the equivalent of $421 million. The lawsuit, billed as the largest of its kind in Europe, accuses Google of anti-competitive behavior. Google allegedly 'buried' 1plusV sites for four years in its search engine results and denied them a major source of revenue.

The French firm had also developed a hybrid search engine that wasn't allowed to co-exist with Google's if 1plusV wanted to collect ad revenue. Companies either have to submit to Google's ad terms or else risk not being found on the web.

Such concerns are already being addressed in a complaint with the EU that includes Microsoft, but 1plusV has contended that the outcome of the case won't be decided for years and could come too late to provide compensation for damages.

The complaint comes just days after the start of a formal FTC investigation in the US where many of the same issues are under scrutiny. In that case, Google has already insisted that it only does what it believes is in the best interests of users and has argued that Internet users are free to go to other search engines. At roughly two thirds of the American search market and frequently the largest share worldwide, though, working on Google's terms is virtually necessary for many companies to remain profitable on the web.

Google's behavior is different than the frequently confrontational approach Microsoft took until fined in Europe. Its search engine, Android, and other elements are relatively transparent. Some have still accused it of being selective and only giving the best chances to certain companies, such as withholding full YouTube support from Windows Phone 7 but making it easy for those mobile platforms already using Google search, like Apple's iOS.

by MacNN Staff



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