Google hit with antitrust probe in Europe

The inquiry follows complaints filed by three Google rivals

Google is being investigated for possible anticompetitive behavior in Europe following complaints filed against it there by three competitors, Google revealed in a blog post Tuesday.

The investigation, which has been described as preliminary, follows complaints filed with the European Commission by a U.K. price comparison site called Foundem, a French legal search engine called ejustice.fr, and a German search site called Ciao that was recently acquired by Microsoft, Google said.

"While we will be providing feedback and additional information on these complaints, we are confident that our business operates in the interests of users and partners, as well as in line with European competition law," Google said.

The Commission, which is the EU's top antitrust regulator, often conducts a preliminary investigation when it receives complaints about potentially anticompetitive behavior. It typically studies the market in question, interviews companies involved and then decides whether to launch a full investigation. Google appears to be the target of such a preliminary probe.

The search giant implied, but did not say outright, that Microsoft had a hand in two of the complaints.

"Regarding Ciao, they were a long-time AdSense partner of Google's, with whom we always had a good relationship," Google said in its blog post. "However, after Microsoft acquired Ciao in 2008 (renaming it Ciao from Bing) we started receiving complaints about our standard terms and conditions. They initially took their case to the German competition authority, but it now has been transferred to Brussels."

Foundem complained that Google's algorithm pushes the shopping site down in its rankings because it considers it a competitor, Google said. Foundem is a member of an organization called ICOMP, Google said, "which is funded partly by Microsoft."

The complaint from Ejustice.fr is based on similar grounds to the one from Foundem, Google said.

"Though each case raises slightly different issues, the question they ultimately pose is whether Google is doing anything to choke off competition or hurt our users and partners. This is not the case," Google said in its posting.

"We always try to listen carefully if someone has a real concern and we work hard to put our users' interests first and to compete fair and square in the market. We believe our business practices reflect those commitments."

Microsoft said it was not surprised to see competition officials looking at the online advertising market, given its importance to the Internet and "the dominance of one player." It said it had not been notified yet by the Commission about the Google inquiry.

"In the meantime, we continue to cooperate with the German government's investigation into complaints brought by Ciao, the German Newspaper Publishers Association, Association of German Magazine Publishers, and Euro-Cities, a Berlin-based online mapping company," Microsoft said in a statement sent via e-mail.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the probe earlier Tuesday, calling it a preliminary investigation that is at the "early, fact-finding stage."

Google said it decided to discuss the case because it knew it would garner attention in the media.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Google

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

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?