Seattle: Microsoft Corp stepped up its rivalry with Google Inc on Thursday by filing a formal complaint with the European Commission claiming Google systematically thwarts Internet search competition.
It is the first time Microsoft - itself the target of anticompetition action in the United States and Europe - has filed a complaint with regulators over competition issues.
In its complaint, Microsoft claims Google engages in a “pattern of actions” that impede competition unfairly. Google controls more than 90% of the Internet search advertising market in Europe, well ahead of Microsoft’s rival Bing, which is struggling to make inroads into Google’s market share.
Google is already under investigation by the European Commission after complaints from three small firms, one of them owned by Microsoft. .
Google did not seek to counter Microsoft’s claims publicly, but indicated it was not overly concerned by the complaint.
“We’re not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants,” A Google representative said in an-mailed statement. “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.”
Microsoft said it felt it was time to challenge Google on legal grounds directly. Last year the company publicly encouraged companies to question Google’s practices.
“As troubling as the situation is in the United States, it is worse in Europe,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s top lawyer, on a blog on the company’s website. “That is why our filing today focuses on a pattern of actions that Google has taken to entrench its dominance in the markets for online search and search advertising to the detriment of European consumers.”
Specifically, the suit charges that Google hurts competition by “walling off” content on its YouTube site, so other search engines can’t display accurate results; by making it difficult for Microsoft’s mobile phone software to show videos from YouTube; by blocking access to content owned by book publishers which Google has copied and stored; by not allowing advertisers to use their own data about customers garnered from Google on other sites, such as those owned by Microsoft; by blocking websites from using competing ‘search boxes´; and by making it expensive for potential competitors to Google to advertise online.
“We readily appreciate that Google should continue to have the freedom to innovate. But it shouldn’t be permitted to pursue practices that restrict others from innovating and offering competitive alternatives,” said Microsoft’s Smith in his blog. “That’s what it’s doing now. And that’s what we hope European officials will assess and ultimately decide to stop.