BRUSSELS — Google faced new accusations on Tuesday that it was blocking a smaller European search service by restricting the use of its powerful system for attracting advertisers.
A French company, 1plusV, which owns Ejustice.fr, one of three European companies that have already filed charges against Google, said it sent a supplementary complaint to the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union. The commission began a formal antitrust investigation of Google three months ago looking for evidence that Google had the power to shut out competition and restrict advertisers from doing business with other search engines. A spokesman for the commission, Amadeu Altafaj, said it would “give Google the opportunity to comment on the allegations raised before deciding on what, if any, further steps to take.”
Google’s advertising service, called AdSense, allows advertisers to buy a keyword that, when typed in as a search query, produces an advertising link alongside the search results. Marie-Cécile Rameau, a lawyer representing 1plusV, said Google was preventing the Web sites operated by 1plusV from using AdSense with its search technology.
That practice “impedes the development of efficient vertical search engines” that could compete with Google’s specialized services, Ms. Rameau said in Brussels. It also prevented consumers from gaining access to technologies that could offer them more search options, she said.
Al Verney, a spokesman for Google, said it was continuing to work “closely with the European Commission to explain many different parts of our business.” He declined to comment on the specific allegations by 1plusV.
Echoing Google’s previous statements about the case in Europe, Mr. Verney said the company had “always tried to do the right thing for our users and advertisers,” and added, “there’s always room for improvement.”
In a complaint to European regulators a year ago, Ejustice.fr contended that Google had removed most of its pages from an online index. As a result, Ejustice said hits to its site suddenly dropped so sharply that it was effectively invisible on the Web.
But Google said that action was necessary because Ejustice.fr was violating its guidelines about how to make the Web site findable in its search engine. That was a problem, according to Google, because users could end up never finding a Web page with the answer to their question — just more pages of search results.
Bruno Guillard, the owner of 1plusV, said Tuesday that Google had begun to make those pages findable again on its search engine as part of a process known as whitelisting, which began after European Union regulators opened their formal investigation on Nov. 30.
Ms. Rameau, the lawyer, said, “The massive whitelisting since the opening of the proceedings by the commission shows clearly that the blacklisting, in March, was completely arbitrary.” Mr. Guillard said Google’s actions had meant losses for his company amounting to “a lot of millions” of euros, but he declined to give a precise figure. Aides to Mr. Guillard said the company was still calculating the total losses. Mr. Guillard also said Google’s actions meant that another site operated by 1plusV, Eguides.fr, had lost a contract with the French national library to help make its resources available online.
“Because of the traffic collapse” the French library “understandably thought that Eguides.fr was no longer a suitable partner and signed an agreement with Microsoft,” 1plusV said.