Google faces a new, multimillion-dollar challenge in Europe after a French Internet company filed a lawsuit Tuesday saying the search engine giant unfairly squeezed out competitors in France.
The company, 1plusV, says it is mounting the largest single claim of its kind in Europe against Google. It comes soon after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, following the lead of European regulators, started investigating claims that Google has abused its dominance of Internet search and advertising to stifle competition.
The Versailles, France-based company is claiming euro295 million ($419 million) in damages from Google Inc. and Google France in the suit filed Tuesday in a Paris commercial court.
"We have only just received the complaint so we can't comment in detail yet. We always try to do what's best for our users. It's the key principle that drives our company and we look forward to explaining this," Google spokesman Al Verney told The Associated Press.
Google has said that its closely guarded recipe for search results is designed to give people the best recommendations, not bury links to its rivals.
1plusV operates more than 30 specialty search engines in French. For example, it allows users to search for specific legal texts.
The company says in a statement Tuesday that it became impossible for users to find its sites via Google searches, and claims that Google did this intentionally. This kind of "blacklisting" deprived the 1plusV sites of advertising revenue, the company argues.
1plusV is one of several companies that has complained to the European Commission about Google's practices. The suit filed in Paris on Tuesday is in addition to those previous complaints.
It may take months or years for the lawsuit to produce any results.