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Yelp Renews Antitrust Complaint Against Google

Yelp announced that it has renewed a European antitrust complaint against Google.

The online reviews company filed a similar complaint in 2014, stating that Google’s local search tools, such as business listings and reviews from Google Maps, receive top billing in results over links to Yelp and other sources.

“When a mother does a search for a pediatrician in Berlin...she is being siphoned into an inferior experience powered exclusively by Google’s local review content,” Luther Lowe, Yelp’s senior vice president of public policy, told Reuters.

But the initial complaint has not led the EU to issue a formal charge against Google. In addition, letters and testimony to U.S. regulators have failed to lead to charges.

With this new move, Yelp said it has strengthened its complaint by looking at the EU’s ruling last year. In that case, a bunch of tiny websites convinced the commission that Google’s Shopping product put them at a disadvantage when consumers were searching for products. The sites, who pushed the commission to open an investigation in the years leading up to 2010, had some big help — Microsoft.

Google was eventually fined $2.9 billion, which the company is appealing.

Yelp also used Google’s rebuttal to an antitrust complaint in Brazil related to shopping results to craft their complaint.

This isn't the first time Yelp has had issues with the search engine giant. Last year, the online reviews company claimed that Google was going back on a promise made as part of a settlement over tech regulation back into 2012, in which Google said it wouldn’t use content from third-party websites without their permission.

In December of 2012, Google agreed to not use content of third parties, such as photos and user reviews, if they opted out of the practice. It was part of an anticompetitive settlement that ended an FTC inquiry into the company. But Yelp believed Google was not holding up its end of the deal.

“This is a flagrant violation of Google’s promises to the FTC, and the FTC should reopen the Google case immediately,” Luther Lowe, Yelp’s public policy chief, told the Wall Street Journal. The paper noted the letter to the FTC was shared with the European Union’s competition chief, four congressmen or women and all of the state attorneys general.

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