Microsoft has filed a formal antitrust complaint against Google with the European Commission, the same regulatory body that gave it so much antitrust trouble over Internet Explorer.
Microsoft is filing a formal complaint with the European
Commission, insisting that arch-rival Google's competitive practices unfairly
dominate the European search market.
"We're concerned by a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at
stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative," Brad Smith,
Microsoft's senior vice president and general counsel, wrote in a March 30
statement posted on the Microsoft
on the Issues
blog. "We've therefore decided to join a large and growing
number of companies registering their concerns about the European search
Smith then unleashes a litany of complaints against Google:
that the company restricts other search engines from properly cataloging
YouTube videos in search results, that it prevents those YouTube videos from
running well on Windows Phones, that it blocks access to book publishers'
content, that it restricts advertisers' access to their own data.
"Advertising revenue is the economic propellant fueling the
billions of dollars needed for ongoing search investments," he wrote. "By
reducing competitors' ability to attract advertising revenue, this restriction
strikes at the heart of a competitive market."
Microsoft also claims that Google "contractually blocks
leading Websites in Europe from distributing competing search boxes," and that
it "discriminates" against competitors by ratcheting up the price for prominent
placement in Google advertisements.
This represents Microsoft's first-ever antitrust filing with
the European Commission. It comes as something of an irony, considering how
that same regulatory body pursued Microsoft for years over the supposed anti-competitive
practices related to Internet Explorer. Under pressure, Microsoft eventually
released a "Web
browser choice screen"
designed to give Windows users in the European Union
a selection of browsers other than IE.
Google already had a response to Microsoft's filing.
"We're not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one
of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants," a Google
spokesperson wrote in a March 31 email to eWEEK. "For our part, we continue to
discuss the case with the European Commission and we're happy to explain to
anyone how our business works."
By "one of their subsidiaries," the spokesperson is referring
to Ciao! from Bing
, an online-community
portal aimed at a handful of Western European markets. In February 2010
, the European Commission
notified Google that Ciao, along with U.K. price-comparison Website Foundem
and French legal search engine ejustice.fr
, had filed complaints about Google's
effect on European search-engine competition. Foundem is a member of ICOMP, a
lobbying group sponsored by Microsoft
In other words, this conflict has gone on for some time-and
based on Microsoft's filing, looks to continue for some time to come.