MANHATTAN (CN) – Google – whose motto is “Don’t Be Evil” – used its monopoly power to crush a competitor in the business-to-business Internet search business, TradeComet.com says in a federal antitrust complaint.
Tradecomet claims Google felt threatened by Tradecomet’s “vertical search” tool, SourceTool, which it claims delivers more accurate information than Google’s sponsored links. (Tradecomet uses the example of a search for “pumps,” and says its tool can exclude, for instance, women’s shoes, from a search for the mechanical devices.)
Tradecomet claims SourceTool became the “second fastest-growing Web site in the world,” which alarmed the monopolist Google. “Faced with this threat to its business, Google undertook a variety of actions to exclude vertical search sits from the search advertising market, including imposing exclusivity in its agreements with popular and highly trafficked Web sites and targeting and excluding, through its auctions, sites that were intended to starve nascent competition from vertical search sites, like SourceTool, of the critical search traffic necessary to develop and to compete in the search advertising market.
“Accordingly, Google unilaterally terminated the voluntary course of dealing it had with SourceTool by, among other things, manipulating its auctions so that SourceTool faced vastly higher prices to acquire search traffic – prices so high that it was completely uneconomical for SourceTool to win auctions that it had routinely won prior to Google’s exclusionary strategy,” the complaint states. “Google’s anticompetitive conduct therefore strangled the primary source of search traffic to SourceTool, resulting in substantial drops in traffic and revenue. Currently, SourceTool averages approximately 1% of the traffic that visited the site prior to falling victim to Google’s exclusionary conduct.”
Tradecomet demands an injunction and treble damages. It is represented by Charles Rule with Cadwalader Wickersham of Washington, D.C.