French online deal firm wants EU probe into Google

BRUSSELS Thu Aug 4, 2011 11:30am EDT

People walk past a logo next to the main entrance of the Google building in Zurich March 9, 2011. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

People walk past a logo next to the main entrance of the Google building in Zurich March 9, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - French online daily deals company Deal du Jour has complained about Google's business practices to EU antitrust regulators, the latest company to take its grievances about the web search giant to the European Commission.

In a complaint filed with the European Commission on Sunday seen by Reuters, Deal du Jour claimed Google illegally removed its site from its web index without any justification.

It said Google also blocked it from using its Adsense advertising service, saying the world No. 1 Internet search engine's actions were "clearly anticompetitive."

Google moved into the daily deals sector on Monday when it acquired The Dealmap which aggregates offers from lots of daily deal websites. The lucrative sector is dominated by Groupon and LivingSocial.

The complaint by Deal du Jour underscores the difficulties currently facing Google, the subject of nine antitrust complaints filed with the Commission and also the target of a U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation.

"We ask the competition regulator to investigate Google as a matter of urgency because our small company is being destroyed by Google," Deal du Jour said in the complaint.

The company also filed its complaint with the FTC and the French competition regulator.

The Commission said it does not comment on complaints and that it has an ongoing investigation into Google.

"We haven't seen a new complaint, but our AdWords program has clear guidelines. We work to ensure these policies are easy to understand and continue to improve our customer service for advertisers," Google spokesman Al Verney said.

If the EU watchdog accepts Deal du Jour's arguments, it would make it the tenth official complainant, putting it in a group that includes Microsoft.

Francotel, an affiliate of Deal du Jour, complained to the Commission last year that Google blocked its 'Yellow Pages' trademark in its Adwords advertising service. It is not one of the nine official complaints.

(Editing by David Cowell)

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