washingtonpost.com
paidContent.org - Google Sued Over Ad Rates, But Wins Separate, Street Views Court Challenge

David Kaplan
paidContent.org
Wednesday, February 18, 2009 12:06 PM

Companies often complain that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) uses its online ad dominance to punish potential rivals, but this time, one is taking the search giant to court over it. TradeComet, a four-year-old company that runs a vertical search engine for business services called SourceTool.com, has filed a lawsuit claiming that Google increased the company's ad rates because it wanted to weaken a potential competitor, NYT reports. The New York-based company also claims that Google offered more favorable ad rates to Business.com, which it describes as a clear rival of SourceTool, as a way to further penalize TradeComet.

This is TradeComet's second attempt to get the law to restrict Google's moves. Last year, it was one many companies that implored the Justice Department to restrict Google's search deal with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). After it appeared that the Justice Department would block the partnership between Google and Yahoo, Google walked away from the deal. That said, it's doubtful that TradeComet's pleas had any affect on the DOJ's approach to Google/Yahoo and Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, tells the NYT that the lawsuit is likely to hit a brick wall since the courts have heard these arguments against Google before and found them to be lacking.

?MSFT legal team is on the case: A number of those past arguments have been made by TradeComet's law firm, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, which, as WSJ mentions, just happens to represent Microsoft's online services group. Both the firm and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) say that the Redmond software company has absolutely no involvement in the suit. Still, it's more than likely that TradeComet chose the firm because of its history battling the Google, such as one of the firm's representatives inveighing against the Google/Yahoo partnership at a recent Washington DC conference.

?Street View suit dismissed: Google's legal good luck has continued to hold, as the company saw a suit brought by a Pennsylvania couple who charged that Google Maps' Street View feature violated their privacy was thrown out, CNET reported. The couple, Aaron and Christine Boring of Allegheny County, said that since their home was on a private road, Google had no right to capture a photo of it. Similar complaints have been filed in California's Humboldt County, while last month, Google agreed to remove Street View photos after residents near St. Paul, Minn., complained directly to the company. Still, Google's response last summer to the Borings' suit outlines its views on the privacy issue pretty clearly: "Today's satellite-image technology means that?complete privacy does not exist."

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