Microsoft Complains About Google To European Union

Microsoft files a formal complaint with the European Union’s antitrust regulators over anticompetitive practices that it claims hurt competitors.


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Microsoft's general counsel said the company is filing a formal complaint against Google with the European Commission (EC) for anti-competitive activities that keep the search giant dominant in the European Union (EU) with some 95 percent of search traffic.

Brad Smith, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) general counsel, announced the complaint in a post to the Microsoft on the Issues blog.

"Microsoft is filing a formal complaint with the European Commission as part of the Commission's ongoing investigation into whether Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has violated European competition law," Smith's post said.

In fact, the EC -- the executive branch of the EU -- opened an investigation into Google's alleged anticompetitive practices in search markets in late November.

"We're not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants," a Google spokesperson said in an email to InternetNews.com.

Among the original complaints were allegations that Google lowered the page ranking of other search engines. Additionally, the complainants claimed that Google purposely downgraded the quality score for competitors' paid search ads.

At the time, the EC stated that it was merely investigating the complaints, which it noted were all Google competitors, and said that the probe should not be taken to signify any presumption of guilt.

Smith said that Microsoft's formal complaint focuses on several issues.

"Google has done much to advance its laudable mission to 'organize the world's information,' but we're concerned by a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative," his post said.

Smith alleged that Google has blocked other search providers from properly indexing YouTube videos, and has also kept YouTube from working with Microsoft's recently introduced Windows Phone devices.

Additionally, Smith argued that Google is trying sew up the rights for what are known as "orphan books" -- books with no discernable copyright -- keeping that content away from competitors' searches.

Another area, use of advertisers' data, is also a sore spot for Smith.

"Google contractually prohibits advertisers from using their data in an interoperable way with other search advertising platforms, such as Microsoft's adCenter," he said.

"Advertising revenue is the economic propellant fueling the billions of dollars needed for ongoing search investments. By reducing competitors’ ability to attract advertising revenue, this restriction strikes at the heart of a competitive market," he continued.

If the complaint got Google's hackles up, though, it wasn't readily apparent.

"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," the Google spokesperson said.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

Tags: Google, search, Microsoft, antitrust, European Union

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