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Google hit by antitrust complaints in Germany

Cartel Office receives three separate complaints

Germany's antitrust authority is awaiting a response from Google on three separate complaints filed recently, although the agency said no action is likely for some time.

The German Federal Cartel Office said it has received complaints from Ciao, a Microsoft subsidiary; a mapping company called Euro-Cities; and the German Newspapers Publishers Association.

The regulator has not formally taken any action against Google yet but has asked the company for its position, said Kay Weidner, spokesman for the office. The agency has the power to fine companies if it finds violations of German antitrust law, he said.

Ciao is a shopping portal acquired by Microsoft in 2008, had filed a previous complaint with the Federal Cartel Office regarding a business arrangement it had with Google prior to the Microsoft's acquisition. The latest complaint alleges that Google unfairly stopped negotiating with Ciao over that deal after Ciao went to the Federal Cartel Office, Weidner said.

No detail on other two complaints were available, and efforts to reach the German Newspapers Publishers Association and Euro-Cities were unsuccessful.

Google said it had been informed of the complaints.

"This is a fact-finding exercise, and we have been asked to provide the authority with our views," according to an e-mail statement from Julia Holtz, Google's competition counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "We are happy to explain our products and business practices, and we of course comply with German and European law."


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