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French search company files new antitrust case against Google

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Google is already facing antitrust scrutiny in Europe over how sites get ranked in Google’s search results; now, France’s 1PlusV is adding more fuel to the fire, filing a new complaint with the European Commission that Google deliberately prevents companies using vertical search technology from using AdSense. 1PlusV is the search engine company behind Ejustice.fr, and is also a party to the existing antitrust investigation the EC is currently conducting into Google. According to 1PlusV, Google barred vertical search companies from using AdSense for targeted advertising—although the company doesn’t say exactly how.

1PlusV’s previous complaint to the European Commission claimed that Google unfairly removed its Ejustice.fr site from its search listings, which was “catastrophic” to the site’s traffic. Google claims that its search engine rankings favor first-party content, rather than sites that offer links to third-party content. According to Google, pages with information are more valuable to Internet users than pages which, in turn, merely point to information.

1PlusV argues Google actively worked against its sites, noting that many sites Google had removed from its search results listings for the same reasons subsequently re-appeared without any apparent changes—but 1PlusV’s were still omitted. 1PlusV argues Google is deliberately suppressing vertical search engines that compete with Google’s own search results.

In a statement Tuesday, Google said it has been cooperating with the European commission to explain how it conducts business. “While we have always tried to do the right thing for our users and advertisers, we recognize that there’s always room for improvement.” Google has previously indicated it would prefer to reach an out-of-court resolution rather than engage in a protracted legal battle.

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