Google Faces Raft Of Lawsuits From Microsoft, Publishers In Germany

Google Inc. has been hit by a slew of antitrust lawsuits in Germany, with a couple of publisher groups, one mapping company, and a Microsoft subsidiary initiating antitrust complaints against the business practices of the search engine bellwether.

Google’s spokesperson Kay Oberbeck noted that two German newspapers and magazine groups, namely Federation of Newspapers Publishers (BDZV) and Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ), have filed a legal suit with the nation’s Federal Cartel Office.

In their complaint, the publishers groups demanded the search giant to pay for the copyrighted news snippets it shows in its search results as well as web news services.

Incidentally, the case from German publishers seems to be a strong one, as Belgian newspapers had already won a similar copyright suit preventing Google from placing their news items in its web news services.

Oberbeck further noted about separate but similar lawsuits from Microsoft-owned advertising company Ciao, and an online mapping firm from Berlin, Euro-Cities.

He asserted that Google would fully co-operate with the antitrust authorities during their probe into the matter.

Citing the same, Oberbeck said: “This is a fact-finding exercise, and we have been asked to provide the authority with our views. We are happy to explain our products and business practices, and we of course comply with German and European law.”

Our Comments

Google has become too large for its own sake it seems. Competitors will be coming from right, left and center to take it down. Its dominating position makes it, like Microsoft, a very visible target. Expect many other such lawsuits in 2010 as Google tries its best to stay focus on search.

Related Links

An Antitrust Complaint for Google in Germany

(The New York Times)

Google Faces German Antitrust Cases From Microsoft, Publishers

(Bloomberg)

Google Facing German Regulators on Three Accounts

(Softpedia)

Microsoft, German publishers hit Google with anti-trust suits

(Register)

Google pledges cooperation with German competition probe

(AFP)