A French search engine has started legal action against Google claiming it used it position in the market to stop rivals developing.

1PlusV, which in January filled a complaint with the European Union antitrust authorities over Google's actions, is seeking €295m (£264m) in damages.

Google is already the subject of an antitrust investigation launched by the European Commission last November, after three firms accused the search engine of demoting rival sites in search results and giving preference to its own services. 1plusV, is the parent company of French search engine eJustice.fr, one of the firms involved in this original complaint.

"Google employed a number of anti-competitive practices and unethical behaviour over a period of four years to cripple 1plusV's ability to generate business and advertising," the search engine claims.

"Our initiative, will not benefit only our company, but all the players in this growing sector of vertical search engines," said Bruno Guillard from 1plusV.

Google said it couldn't comment in detail as it had only just received the complaint.

"We always try to do what's best for our users. It's the key principle that drives our company and we look forward to explaining this."

The search engine also looks set to be investigated by the US Federal Trade Commission.