By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - French search engine company 1PlusV said it is suing Google for 295 million euros ($417.7), alleging the company used its market dominance to block the development of alternative services.
The French company is one of four, including Microsoft, that has accused Google of abusing its dominant position by demoting rival sites in search results and giving preference to its own services. The allegation has triggered an investigation by the European Commission.
1plusV, which runs the Ejustice.fr legal website and search engine, says that Google prevented it from developing specialized "vertical" search engines and crippled its ability to generate business and advertising and the claim is for lost profits.
"Between 2007 and 2010, no less than 30 vertical search engines created by 1plusV were black-listed, some of which showed significant business potential," it said.
A lawyer for 1PlusV said Google had been served notice of the damage claim on Monday. The claim will be filed with the Paris commercial court on Tuesday or Wednesday and piles on more scrutiny of Google following the opening last week of a formal probe into its business by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
1plusV accused Google of suffocating rivals through its policy of tying its advertising service Adsense to its own search engine.
Google's Adsense allows advertisers to buy keywords which when typed in as a search query produce a commercial link alongside the search results. Thus rival search engines wanting to access vital clients and revenue were forced to adopt Google technology.
The European Commission is now investigating the complaints. The European Union executive, with the power to fine companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover for breaching EU rules has hit Microsoft with total fines of more than 1 billion euros.
(Editing by Sophie Walker)