Google faces claim for €295M damages in French court

French search company 1plusV has followed up an antitrust complaint to the European Commission with a claim for damages

A French publishing company has filed suit against Google, alleging anti-competitive practices and claiming €295 million (US$420 million) in damages.

The lawsuit, filed by 1plusV in the Paris Commercial Court on Tuesday, accuses Google of blacklisting 30 vertical search engines the French company created to target particular markets, and of manipulating search results in order to promote its own services over those of competitors.

If those 30 search engines had been allowed to compete on their merits, they would now have combined yearly sales of €30 million, 1plusV said. The company alleged that anticompetitive practices by Google caused it to miss out on past and future profit of around €295 million, a figure it said was based on estimates by the consultancy Microeconomix.

1plusV hinted that its claim for damages included profit it would have realized had it sold the search engines, rather than continuing to operate them, as it noted that a similar hybrid search business, Aardvark, sold for around $50 million, or eight times sales, and would likely sell for more today. Google bought Aardvark in February 2010.

It's not the Google's first legal dust-up with 1plusV: in February 2010 1plusV filed an antitrust complaint against Google with the European Commission, Europe's antitrust authority. That complaint concerned Google's treatment of 1plusV subsidiary eJustice.fr, as a result of which the Commission opened a broad investigation of Google's business practices in November. 1plusV filed another complaint in February this year.

Filing the lawsuit is a logical follow-up to the complaint to the Commission, 1plusV said Tuesday, because although the European antitrust authority could fine Google, it cannot award damages. As 1plusV is a French company, it had to file suit in Paris, it said, adding that the court is already hearing at least one case against Google and so there is no reason it should declare itself incompetent to hear the case against the Californian company.

A spokeswoman for Google said the company had only just received the complaint and so can't comment in detail yet. "We always try to do what's best for our users. It's the key principle that drives our company and we look forward to explaining this," she said.

It will have plenty of time to explain: 1plusV said that cases such as this typically last 16 to 24 months.

1plusV also put paid to any attempts to paint it as a puppet for Google's larger rivals. In a statement, it explicitly denied links with the Initiative for Competitive Online Marketplace (ICOMP), Microsoft and Facebook, and said its legal actions are self-financed.

ICOMP is a Microsoft-backed industry body of which U.K. price comparison search engine Foundem is a member. Foundem filed an antitrust complaint against Google in Europe around the same time 1plusV filed its first complaint. Another price comparison site, Microsoft subsidiary Ciao hit Google with an antitrust complaint in Germany in January 2010, and later filed a complaint with the Commission. In March this year, Microsoft filed an antitrust complaint against Google with the Commission, alleging that Google had stopped Microsoft's Bing search engine from indexing content on Google-owned YouTube.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Ejustice.frantitrustGoogle1plusVlegalCivil lawsuitsinternetsearch engines

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?