A Peek Behind the Curtain of the Texas Antitrust Complaints against Google – Updated 3Xs
Sunday, September 05 2010 @ 12:58 PM EDT
I guess you heard that the Texas attorney general has opened an investigation into antitrust complaints against Google, complaints lodged by Foundem, SourceTool, and myTriggers.com. Them again? Their complaints are not new. Here’s Google’s blog post about it.
And likely you heard about that utterly tasteless ad in Times Square from Consumer Watchdog, a cartoon of a creepy looking Eric Schmidt handing ice cream to children and asking for their secrets.
I think I can explain both events, because they are part of one campaign. Or as American Lawyer describes [PDF] the lawyers behind this, they are on a crusade against Google. The article is titled “The Google-Slayers”. Guess who the lawyers on this crusade have as a client? Microsoft. They handle Microsoft’s antitrust work. Guess who sent the first complainant to these lawyers, which led to this crusade? Microsoft. The jumping off point.
So. A crusade to destroy Google. By folks who count Microsoft as an important client, with new clients, at least one of them directly referred to the “crusaders” by Microsoft and the rest now under their umbrella. My stars, gentlemen. Where is your subtlety?
But there’s more.
Here are the three whose complaints the Texas AG is investigating, as Google highlights each one:
Foundem — the British price comparison site that is backed by ICOMP, an organization funded largely by Microsoft. They claim that Google’s algorithms demote their site because they are a direct competitor to our search engine. The reality is that we don’t discriminate against competitors. Indeed, companies like Amazon, Shopping.com and Expedia typically rank very high in our results because of the quality of the service they offer users. Various experts have taken a closer look at the quality of Foundem’s website, and New York Law School professor James Grimmelmann concluded, “I want Google to be able to rank them poorly.”
SourceTool/TradeComet – SourceTool is a website run by parent company TradeComet, whose private antitrust lawsuit against Google was dismissed by a federal judge earlier this year. The media have noted that TradeComet is represented by longtime Microsoft antitrust attorneys, and independent search experts have called SourceTool a “click arbitrage” site with little original content.
myTriggers – Another site represented by Microsoft’s antitrust attorneys, myTriggers alleges that they suffered a drop in traffic because Google reduced their ad quality ratings. But recent filings have revealed that the company’s own servers overheated, explaining their reduced traffic.