Microsoft Filing Complaint With EU Against Google on Search

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) filed a formal complaint with European antitrust regulators about Google Inc. (GOOG)’s dominance of the Internet search market in the region.

Google bars competitors from accessing its YouTube video site for search results and has kept phones running Microsoft’s operating system from working properly with YouTube, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said in a blog posting by General Counsel Brad Smith.

A Microsoft unit and two other rivals last year lodged a complaint with the European Union, which is investigating whether Google has violated the region’s antitrust laws. Google is under growing pressure from global regulators that are probing whether the company uses its dominance of Web search to thwart competition.

“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,” Smith wrote in the blog posting.

While Microsoft and partner Yahoo! Inc. have about a quarter of the U.S. search market and Google the rest, Google has almost 95 percent of the market in Europe, Smith said, citing data from regulators.

Google “is not surprised” that Microsoft has complained because its advertising unit, Ciao from Bing, filed a complaint last year, said Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels.

‘Happy to Explain’

“We continue to discuss the case with the European Commission and we’re happy to explain to anyone how our business works,” he said in an e-mailed statement today.

Amelia Torres, a spokeswoman for the European Commission in Brussels, declined to comment.

Google shares fell 0.7 percent to 411 euros and Microsoft fell 0.03 percent to 18.15 euros at 9:18 a.m. in Frankfurt trading.

Besides cordoning off YouTube, Google is also seeking to block access to content owned by book publishers and restricting its own advertisers from accessing the data they put in Google servers as part of ad campaigns, Microsoft said.

“Unfortunately, Google has engaged in a broadening pattern of walling off access to content and data that competitors need to provide search results to consumers and to attract advertisers,” Smith said in the blog. Microsoft is the world’s largest software maker.

Search Boxes

Google also has signed contracts that block top European websites from distributing rival search boxes, Microsoft said. For example, Microsoft can’t distribute some e-mail and document services through certain European telecommunications companies that have contracts with Google because these services make use of Bing search boxes, Smith said.

The EU said in November that it’s investigating whether Google’s AdSense contracts prevent publishers from striking deals to place ads from other services on their sites. It’s also looking at claims Google limits advertisers’ ability to move data such as key search terms from AdWords to another service.

Google said in a statement in November that it “worked hard to do the right thing by our users and our industry” by marking ads clearly and enabling users and advertisers to move data to other services.

“There’s always going to be room for improvement and so we’ll be working with the commission to address any concerns,” Mountain View, California-based Google said in the November statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at dbass2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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