French Competition Authority dismisses E-Kanopi’s complaint against Google

On 4 March 2013 the French competition authority dismissed (only available in French) a complaint by E-Kanopi alleging that Google abused of its dominant position by seeking to force it out of the market in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article L. 420 – 2 of the French Commercial Code. E-Kanopi runs a search engine and various thematic sites providing information on a range of topics (company’s financial data, phone listings, weather and pensions).

In particular, E-Kanopi alleged that Google’s conduct was exclusionary and exploitative, insofar as it de-activated its online advertising accounts without justification and refused to supply or grant it access to Google’s AdWords and AdSense services.

In fact, while E-Kanopi accounts were re-instated in May 2011 after a court ruling, the complainant alleged that Google discriminated against it in the way it treated other search-engines, insofar as Google did not apply the same terms to E-Kanopi’s direct competitors.  In brief, Google allowed certain search engines to continue using AdWords, despite the fact that for similar reasons Google had suspended E-Kanopi’s accounts. Moreover, according to E-Kanopi, Google’s search results concerning E-Kanopi were biased and harmed E-Kanopi’s search position.

However, the French Competition Authority concluded that Google’s policy for reviewing its online advertisers had been exercised in an “objective and neutral” manner. Also, E-Kanopi did not prove that other search engines were in a similar position to that of E-Kanopi, and did not show that Google interfered with its search quality criteria to achieve anticompetitive ends or effects. [Gabriele Accardo]