French search company 1plusV is seeking $423 million in damages from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), citing lost business as a result of Google’s alleged anticompetitive business practices. While Google is no stranger to antitrust complaints, the case of 1plusV is the largest claim ever brought against Google in Europe.
According to claims brought Tuesday, Google blacklisted 30 of the French company’s search engines from its search results between 2007 and 2010. 1plusV is also claiming that Google promotes its own services ahead of its competitors, though Google maintains its search results are purely algorithmic and subject to no human interference.
1plusV founder Bruno Guillard says the trouble first began in September 2007 when the company suddenly lost 80% of its average 1 million visitors a day by the end of the month.
This makes the third lawsuit 1plusV has filed against Google; the first was a joint antitrust suit with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), filed with the European Commission in February 2010, and the second was filed just this past February. Neither of 1plusV’s two previous suits entitled the company to damages.
While seeking damages in this most recent suit, 1plusV will continue to pursue a ruling that puts an end to Google’s anti-competitive practices. Google currently controls 90% of the market in Europe.
Google also holds a two-thirds market share in the U.S., opening it up to regulatory scrutiny at home as well. This year, the FTC has been investigating Google for antitrust practices, a federal judge rejected a settlement to create a universal online book library, and the the Department of Justice has scrutinized Google’s purchase of flight data software company ITA, as well as their proposed purchase of digital advertising toolmaker Admeld.
Currently the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee is planning to hold a hearing on “competition issues pertaining to internet search” within the next few weeks, and will require Google’s CEO Larry Page and Chairman Eric Schmidt to testify.
Competitors to Watch: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Bidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), and AOL (NYSE:AOL).