France: Google’s $425 Million Lawsuit

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A French search engine, Microsoft Corp., and two other sites have sued Google for $425 million (295 million euros) alleging that Google buried their search results.

The lawsuit was filed in a French commercial court in Paris Tuesday, according to the International Business Times. The complaint was led by 1plusV, a French search engine, and joined by Microsoft Corp., British price-comparison site Foundem and Microsoft-owned German price-comparison site Ciao. The lawsuit is for lost and future profits, said 1plusV.

The lawsuit filed at the Paris commercial court "is a logical next step" following the complaint to the EU competition authorities, 1plusV President and founder Bruno Guillard said in a statement to Agence France Presse.

1plusV accused Google of "choking" the development of its rivals by "unfair competition in the listing of Internet sites" in its Web search results, and forcing the use of Google search technology to participate in its online advertising market.

If 1plusV wins its European lawsuit, the news doesn't bode well for Google. "If that company were to win, it will set a very negative precedent for Google," BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis told IB Times. "If it becomes a trend where it's not just government penalties but lost profits from competitors, that adds up quick."

The case also opens up the way for every other site to try their hand at squeezing Google for anti-competitive practices, not only in Europe, but the United States. What we find most interesting is that Microsoft has a very large hand in both the European case and the brewing federal antitrust probe in the United States. You would think a company that had such a lengthy and expensive antitrust battle with the federal government would be more sympathetic.

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