The parent company of SourceTool.com, a small business-to-business online search engine, on Feb. 17 filed a complaint in United States District Court against Google for violating antitrust laws.
The 38-page complaint filed by New York-based TradeComet.com, which launched SourceTool.com in 2005, alleges that Google violated the Sherman Act, the federal anti-monopoly statute, by attempting to quash the smaller company's business once the latter started to draw a rapidly increasing number of hits.
TradeComet.com is being represented by Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, which also represents Microsoft in its antitrust dealings. A partner with the firm told The New York Times that Microsoft has "no involvement" in the suit against Google.
"Google recognized ... that sites like SourceTool.com (individually and collectively with other verticals) posed a substantial threat to Google's dominance in search advertising and would attract highly valued search traffic from Google," the complaint states.
TradeComet.com argues that the search giant tried to strangle the company's flow of advertising dollars. SourceTool.com bases its directory on the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC).
"Accordingly," the complaint continues, "Google unilaterally terminated the voluntary course of dealing it had with SourceTool by, among other things, manipulating its auctions so that SourceTool faced vastly higher prices to acquire search traffic."
SourceTool.com also says that Google provided "a competitive alternative for search advertisers" with Business.com. The suit references a November incident in which the government nearly filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google over its dealings with Yahoo.
In response, Google issued a statement that said it will look into the matter.
"We have not yet had a chance to review the complaint in detail, but, as we have consistently made clear, the advertising market in which Google operates is highly competitive, and advertisers have a huge range of choices."