Bloomberg News

Google Faces EU Antitrust Complaint From French Shopping Website

January 24, 2012

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc. faces an antitrust complaint at the European Commission from Twenga, a French shopping-comparison website, which says the world’s largest search engine may have abused a dominant position.

Bastien Duclaux, chief executive officer of Paris, France- based Twenga, said Google’s services “should not benefit from any privileged treatment” in the company’s search rankings. He said Google updates since late 2010 have demoted Twenga in favor of Google’s own shopping comparison service.

The EU is investigating Google over claims it discriminated against other services in its search results and stopped some websites from accepting rival ads. Microsoft Corp. and shopping- comparison site Foundem are among companies that asked the agency to examine the Mountain View, California-based search engine.

The European Commission received the complaint from Twenga yesterday, Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the Brussels-based regulator, said in an e-mail. Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels, declined to comment.

Google has “applied several algorithms last year and very recently in order to penalize these kind of products in the search results,” Duclaux said in a telephone interview. “Twenga lost more than 30 percent of its audience during the course of August.”

Duclaux said Google may also tweak the so-called quality score of websites to demote rival advertising platforms. The score helps set ad prices for the AdWords advertising program.

Google said in February that updates to the search engine were intended to favor “high quality sites” with “original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

--Editor: Anthony Aarons

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.


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