At first, it's a bit jarring to see Washington-based Microsoft press its unfair competition claims against California-based Google in Belgium. But Microsoft picked Europe as the latest venue in its fight with Google for the simple reason that it's more likely to get quicker action from European regulators who've been more prone to reel in dominant companies.
Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith disclosed the filing with the European Commission in a blog post last night. Microsoft is alleging that Google is unfairly competing in European markets by rigging its search algorithms, ranking its own services higher than rival products, and impeding access to YouTube content, making it harder for alternative search engines to find videos.
There are plenty of reasons for Microsoft to press its case in Europe rather than the United States. To start, Microsoft filed its complaint there because European regulators have already opened an investigation into Google's conduct. In addition, Microsoft has learned from its own battles with European regulators that the burden to prove anticompetitive conduct is often lower in Europe than in the United States. That's particularly true with the kind of case Microsoft is hoping the European Commission will bring.
"Microsoft has a much better shot at this in the European market," said Herbert Hovenkamp, a professor of antitrust law at the University of Iowa College of Law. In Europe, companies with dominant market positions have a duty to share technical data that rivals need to compete. So when Microsoft alleges that Google won't share technical data to help it examine and index information on services such as YouTube, it may very well find favor with the European Commission, Hovenkamp said. … Read more