Google continues to face heat in Europe over its business practices, as a French company sent a fresh complaint to the European Commission arguing that the search engine is blocking it from using its ad platform.
1PlusV, the parent company of eJustice, one of the three vertical search engines in Europe that filed an antitrust complaint against Google last year, argued that Google was preventing its Websites from using the AdSense ad mechanism for associating ads links with search terms. 1PlusV runs vertical search engines focused on law, culture and music.
Marie-C??Â«cile Rameau, a lawyer representing 1plusV, said Google’s “blacklisting” of Websites impinges the development of vertical search engines, thus denying consumers access to other Web search options. The Associated Press and Financial Times have more details about the complaint.
The Commission, which last November opened a formal investigation into Google’s search and search ad practices, said it would let Google comment on 1PlusV’s allegations before taking any steps.
Google declined to discuss 1PlusV’s complaint directly, but noted:
“We have been working closely with the European Commission to explain many different parts of our business. While we have always tried to do the right thing for our users and advertisers, we recognize that there’s always room for improvement.”
If the European Commission decides to tack on 1PlusV’s complaint to its current investigation, it would be the second time the Commission widened the protracted investigation against Google.
In December, the Commission added 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, to its current scrutiny into Google’s search practices.
Google’s search practices came under fire in February 2010 from vertical shopping sites Foundem, eJustice, and Microsoft’s Ciao!, which argued that the search engine had pushed down their services in its Google.com search pages, in favor of its own product shopping services.
The search engine denied any bad acting to boost its own services, arguing that Websites such as Ejustice violated its rules for surfacing its Website on Google.com.
Google is facing similar allegations of antitrust violations in the United States from the Texas attorney general, who asked for reams of info on Google’s ad pricing, shopping search and the ranking of Websites in search results and ad listings.
Google is also weathering strong opposition from online travel companies over its proposed bid to acquire ITA Software for $700 million. Expedia and other parties fear the deal would give Google too much power over the online travel market.