French search engine 1PlusV says it has launched a €295 million (US$418 million) lawsuit against Google, claiming the Internet giant leveraged its dominance of the Internet search market to stifle competition. The French company develops a number of niche search sites, including the ejustice.fr legal search engine, says Google’s business practices have hindered the company in developing verticalized search engines in particular nice interests, and prevented the company from generating business via advertising. 1plusV claims that dozens of vertical search engines it has developed have been blacklisted by Google.
The French firm has also filed a complaint earlier this year with the European Commission that Google deliberately prevents the company from participating in Google’s AdSense advertising platform. Three other companies have filed similar complains against Google in the EU, including Microsoft, British firm Foundem, and Germany’s Caio. The European Commission is currently investigating the complaints.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the new lawsuit.
Industry watchers speculate that 1plusV’s lawsuit could just be the first in a wave of legal actions against Google, if companies that feel they have been wronged by Google’s search ranking or advertising platforms are emboldened by the suit.
Google has historically claimed it tries to make its search content as relevant as possible to its users, and has consistently de-valued search results that its algorithms believe lead to “link farms” or other pools of aggregated content rather than to original sources. Vertical search engines typically operate as collection points of points to information on a particular topic: while they don’t host much content themselves, they purport to offer useful organizational and review services to provide visitors with links to the most relevant information.