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Microsoft files European antitrust complaint against Google [Updated]

March 31, 2011 |  6:36 am

Microsoft-blog Microsoft Corp. said it was filing a formal antitrust complaint in Europe against Google Inc., alleging the Internet giant is squelching competition by limiting access to some of its data from YouTube and other services.

The complaint will be filed as part of the European Commission's ongoing antitrust investigation, launched in November, into whether Google has abused its dominance in Internet search there at the expense of rivals.

Microsoft said it was the first time it had ever filed an antitrust complaint against a rival, another salvo in a bitter, long-running battle between the two technology titans.

"Google has done much to advance its laudable mission to 'organize the world’s information,' but we’re concerned by a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative," Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith wrote in a blog post. "We’ve therefore decided to join a large and growing number of companies registering their concerns about the European search market."

He said European regulators have found that Google has about 95% of the search market there and has taken advantage of that dominance "to the detriment of European consumers."

Google has restricted the ability of Microsoft's Bing and other rival search engines to gather data from YouTube needed to properly display search results, Smith said. Google also has blocked smartphones running Microsoft's Windows software from operating properly with YouTube -- problems that iPhones and phones with Google's Android software do not have, he said.

"Microsoft is ready to release a high-quality YouTube app for Windows Phone," Smith said. "We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide."

Smith cited four other examples of what he said was Google abusing its European search dominance, including limiting the ability of advertisers to access the data they give to Google so that they can also serve ads through competitors.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[Updated at 7:53 a.m.: Google issued the following statement in response to the complaint: "We're not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants. 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."]

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-- Jim Puzzanghera

Photo: Reuters

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