- Associated Press - Thursday, March 31, 2011

BRUSSELS (AP) - Microsoft Corp. added its weight to an existing probe by European Union antitrust authorities into whether rival Google Inc. is abusing its dominant position in the online search market to thwart competition.

Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith said Thursday the company is filing its own complaint against Google with the European Commission, citing concern over “a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative.”

A spokeswoman for the Commission couldn’t immediately confirm whether the complaint had already been received.

The Commission opened a formal investigation into Google’s behavior last November, following complaints from several smaller Web companies that the search giant was discriminating against them in its results.

Google has long pointed to Microsoft’s involvement in the probe, since one of the original complainants, online shopping site Ciao, is owned by Microsoft’s search engine Bing. Another company involved in the case, U.K.-based price comparison site Foundem, is a member of a Microsoft-sponsored technology organization.

Al Verney, a Brussels-based spokesman for Google, said the company wasn’t surprised by Microsoft’s move 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,” Verney said.

Nevertheless, Microsoft’s direct complaint adds weight to the case, since the company lists several specific examples of alleged anticompetitive practices by Google involving some of the search engine’s pet projects.

Smith claims that Google “put in place a growing number of technical measures to restrict competing search engines from properly accessing” its YouTube video-streaming site.

“Without proper access to YouTube, Bing and other search engines cannot stand with Google on an equal footing in returning search results with links to YouTube videos and that, of course, drives more users away from competitors and to Google,” he wrote in a blog post.

Smith also said that Google blocked Microsoft’s Windows Phones “from operating properly with YouTube,” but offers better services to its own Android phones and iPhones, whose producer Apple Inc. does not own a search engine.

In his blog post, Smith also accused Google of blocking leading European websites from displaying search boxes that come from other search engines, and keeping companies that use its advertising service _ Google’s main cash cow _ from accessing their own data to use it “in an interoperable way with other search advertising platforms, such as Microsoft’s adCenter.”

Smith said Microsoft had provided the European Commission with “considerable body of expert analysis” to support its case.

With its complaint, Microsoft finds itself in a new situation in Europe, after spending years battling antitrust investigations and fines from the European Commission.

“Having spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot with the European Commission, the filing of a formal antitrust complaint is not something we take lightly,” Smith said.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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