Europe's antitrust watchdog took up two cases accusing Google of favoring its own search and Web services over that of German publishers and an online mapping company.
The European Commission has tacked on two German cases to its antitrust
investigation into whether or not Google is unfairly promoting its own Web
services in its search results on Google.com.
The New York Times said
the Commission has taken up complaints from a conglomerate of 450 newspaper and
magazine publishers, known as the B.D.Z.V. and V.D.Z., and Euro-Cities, an
online mapping specialist.
Presumably, this will add more evidential wood to the commission's broader
case, which crystallized
late last month based on complaints from
vertical search engines Foundem, Microsoft's Ciao and eJustice.
These companies alleged
in February that Google surfaces links for Google Product
Search and other Web services over links to their own comparison shopping
engines on Google.com.
The European Commission said Nov. 30:
"The Commission will investigate whether Google has abused a dominant
market position in online search by allegedly lowering the ranking of unpaid
search results of competing services which are specialized in providing users
with specific online content such as price comparisons and by according
preferential placement to the results of its own vertical search services in
order to shut out competing services."
Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd told the Times
the Commission was
looking into aspects of the B.D.Z.V. and V.D.Z. and Euro-Cities complaints that
are similar those of Foundem, Ciao and eJustice.
However, there are some variations.
The publishers claimed Google favored its own search results and piggybacked
on their content by pairing ads with articles to make money. Euro-Cities said
Google Maps was being used in other Websites for free, impinging its own ability
to compete for business.
Google professed no concern over the expanded investigation because it's par
for the course. A Google spokesperson told eWEEK the European Commission
automatically takes over cases from European Union member states when there are
"We continue to work cooperatively with the Commission and national
regulators, explaining many aspects of our business. There's always going to be
room for improvement, so we are working to address any concerns," the
The European Commission isn't the only antitrust opposition Google is
facing. In the United States,
Microsoft Dec. 13 joined
FairSearch.org, a group created to oppose
Google's $700 million bid for ITA Software.
Google also found itself
recently defending its business practices from
accusations that it gives its own local search service preferential treatment
over Yelp, TripAdvisor and others.