A French company "1plusV" has sued Google in the Paris Commercial Court for the equivalent of $421 million. The civil complaint was orginally filed on February 22, 2011.
1plusV claims its sites were "blacklisted" by Google and lost most of their traffic over a period of several years, suffering "irreparable" harm. According to the company:
Between 2007 and 2010 no less than 30 vertical search engines created by 1plusV were "black-listed", some of which showed significant business potential. A few or these 30 vertical search engines have been recently "white-listed", i.e. indexed again by Google's robots (without any content change nor explanation) but irreparable damage has been done; if all 30 search engines created by 1plusV had been allowed to compete on their merits, yearly sales would currently amount to more than €30 million
In addition, the company detailed what it said were Google's anti-competitive or "unethical" behaviors:
- suffocation of technological competitors through a bundled access to ads revenue for the exclusive use of Google's technology. 1plusV had to get rid of VSearch early in order to be granted access to AdSense real time.
- unfair competition in referencing Editors websites through the listing in Google results of sensitive and private data, including data from Government agencies' extranets which explicitly ban these practices.
- manipulation of "natural results" through (i) the artificial pushing up of Google's own services to the first page of search results without giving Internet users any chance to differentiate from real organic results and (ii) the discriminatory application of so-called "quality criteria" between competitors and own services.
1plusV is the corporate parent of legal search engine Ejustice.fr, one of three companies (including Foundem and Microsoft-owned Ciao) that filed formal antitrust complaints against Google with European Commission last year. Those complaints led directly to the EC's decision to pursue an antitrust action against Google, which's now in process.
The civil case doesn't really involve a new set of claims but is a kind of follow-up to Ejustice's earlier complaint, this time for substantial money damages. 1plusV wouldn't be entitled to any damages from the EC antitrust action if there were findings against Google.