Microsoft Files Antitrust Complaint Against Google

Published by: Mike Goldman on 31st Mar 2011 | View all blogs by Mike Goldman
microsoft-vs-google.gif
Microsoft Files Antitrust Complaint Against Google

Microsoft has reportedly filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission accusing Google of preventing other companies from “creating a competitive alternative”.  The move is Microsoft's first formal complaint against Google, which it says has long restricted fair competition in the search market.

The European Commission had announced a formal probe into Google last November in response to the growing volume of complaints about the search giant, mostly from small websites such as the price comparison site Foundem and Microsoft-controlled Ciao.  In a press release announcing its formal complaint, Microsoft did acknowledged the irony of filing an antitrust claim, as it has paid billions over the years in fines related to antitrust accusations filed against it.

“Having spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot with the European commission, the filing of a formal antitrust complaint is not something we take lightly,” remarked Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith in a blog posting.  Smith added that Microsoft was forced to act after seeing a “ broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative.”

Smith explained that while Google's dominance of the search market is troubling here in the US, it is far worse in Europe, where Google controls an astounding 95 percent of the search market.  He went on to outline a series of examples of what he called “a pattern of actions” he claims Google has used to “ entrench its dominance in the markets for online search and search advertising to the detriment of European consumers.”

Among the actions Google is alleged to have engaged in are the practice of stopping Microsoft's search engine, Bing, from indexing content on YouTube, which is a Google-owned website, blocking Microsoft's Windows smartphones from working properly on YouTube, blocking access to content owned by book publishers, and limiting the flow of ad campaign information back to advertisers, making it costlier to advertise with Google competitors.

“Over the past year, a growing number of advertisers, publishers, and consumers have expressed to us their concerns about the search market in Europe,” Smith explained.  “They've urged us to share our knowledge of the search market with competition officials.”

Google, meanwhile, has said it would be more than willing to explain how its business works.  “We're not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants,” a spokesman from the Mountain View, California-based company said.  “For our part, we continue to discuss the case with the European commission.”

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