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In Antitrust “Complaint Du Jour” French Daily Deals Company Files Claim Against Google
In what is becoming a steady parade of antitrust claims against Google in Europe, another complaint has been filed by a French company. This latest (10th) antitrust complaint was filed with the European Commission by a French daily deals site called “Deal du Jour.” The company claims “Google illegally removed its site from its web index without any justification [and] blocked it from using its Adsense advertising service,” according to Reuters.
(See postscripts below for clarification on the nature of the claims from the company.)
I haven’t read the complaint or have factual information beyond what is described in the Reuters story. However on their face there’s a good deal about the claims that don’t seem to hold up.
The argument goes: Google doesn’t want to show “Deal du Jour’s” site in search results or allow it to market through AdSense because Google is now in the deals business (with Offers and its recent purchase of The Dealmap) and wants to marginalize or eliminate competitors. Yet a quick search for “les deals,” “deal du jour” or any number of variations on those queries on Google.fr shows that’s not true.
Any deal-related query yields dozens of deal sites operating in France. The image below is from the results for a query for “deals du jour Paris“:
There’s nothing special about Deal du Jour. It’s merely one of numerous daily deal sites operating in France. Better known competitors such as Groupon.fr, LivingSocial, Facebook, kgb and many others are all present and readily discoverable in organic results.
If Google wanted to be “anti-competitive” why would Google block Deal du Jour vs Groupon.fr or numerous other more visible or formidable daily deal competitors? It doesn’t really withstand logic.
Regardless of its merits, the Deal du Jour complaint is unlikely to be the last filed against Google. I suspect that other companies will emerge and add their frustrations to the chorus of complaints before the European Commission has finished its antitrust investigation.
Postscript: I received an email from the company that said the dispute actually involves a trademark claim regarding use of the term “deal du jour.” Here’s the unedited, verbatim email:
Thank you for your article about Deal du Jour against Google, but please i want tell you your article not describe the real deal issue, Google is blocking us since we have claimed our valid Trademark rights to block in adwords Annonces the Words ” Deal du Jour ” ( only at the text not at the keywords ) this is our right as million of companys have this rights ! In revanch of this Google is deleting us from the Index and block our Adwords Annonces ! So think about how anti competitive is that ! For that and only for that reason we have complaint to the EU and the FTC.
Postscript II: It turns out that the nature of the complaint is very different than it appears in the Reuters story, which did a poor job of laying out the company’s claims against Google. I’ve had several email interactions with Deal du Jour now and now have a better understanding of the nature their claim.
Deal du Jour says it owns the trademark to “Deal du Jour” (deal of the day) in France. The company made a complaint to Google in June regarding use of the phrase “Deal du Jour” in AdWords text by other French companies. According to Deal du Jour Google disputed the validity of the trademark. Deal du Jour told me in email, “Google . . . decline our request with the words your trademarks are generic and not valid.”
The company’s anti-competition claim involves alleged retaliation by Google over this trademark-related complaint.
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