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French search engine seeks multi-million euro damages from Google

1plusV pleads with Mountain View to end 'suffocation' of market

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A French search engine is demanding damages of €295m from Google, in a legal spat over Mountain View's dominance of the market.

1plusV, a local rival to Google in France, alleged that Mountain View's command of the search engine biz had blocked the development of services offered by competitors in the country.

The French outfit charged that Google's dominance prevented lesser-known companies from lapping up ad revenue, and claimed that the world's largest search engine prioritises its own sites in query results over that of its rivals.

Paris-based 1plusV said it sought lost profits from Google in a lawsuit filed to the Paris Commercial Court this morning, reports Bloomberg.

The firm is also calling on Google to publish details of alleged antitrust business behaviour on its French homepage for three months.

"Google employed a number of anti-competitive practices and unethical behavior over a period of four years to cripple 1plusV's ability to generate business and advertising," said 1plusV in a statement to the news wire.

It claimed that the the actions included "suffocation of technological competitors" and "manipulation of 'natural results'".

1plusV said that between 2007 and 2010, around 30 "vertical search engines" created by the French firm had been blacklisted by Google.

It said that Google's ad service Adsense had suffocated the market by forcing rival search engines to adopt the web kingpin's technology.

"We have only just received the complaint so we can't comment in detail yet," Google's Brussels spokesman Al Verney told Bloomberg.

"We always try to do what's best for our users. It's the key principle that drives our company and we look forward to explaining this."

The lawsuit in France comes just days after Google confirmed that the US Federal Trade Commission had opened an antitrust investigation into its search and advertising practices.

That probe joins a growing list of complaints filed against Google including an ongoing investigation in the EU, that is expected to cover similar ground.

In the European Union, three vertical search engines have filed complaints against Google including UK-based Foundem and 1plusV.

The company filed a fresh complaint to the European Commission in February this year when it alleged Google was tying search terms and its AdWords service in an anti-competitive fashion, much the same way as Microsoft had bundled its Internet Explorer browser with its Windows operating system.

In April this year the government's culture minister Ed Vaizey rejected calls for UK regulators to investigate Google's search business practices, by saying that the Brussels' probe was an "adequate remedy". ®

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