Canada's competition agency takes Google to court

Slamming the Google gavel

The Canadian Commissioner of Competition has taken Google to court in an antitrust investigation.

The commissioner believes that Google has abused its dominant search position and in an ongoing investigation has filed a document with the Federal Court of Canada demanding more information on the company's practices.

Based on an investigation in May, it is believed that the way Google operates its search engine and advertising platforms, as well as certain terms and conditions of its agreement with third parties, amount to abuses of a dominant position. This goes against the 1985 Canadian competition act, according to the filing on Thursday (link opens a PDF).


The filing lists a number of suspected anti-competitive behaviours by Google. These include entering into exclusive or default search agreements with websites, software and hardware vendors, favouring its own services in search results and restrictions on the use of the AdWords advertising platform.

Although changes were made to the AdWords terms and conditions when Google settled a similar case in the US, the commissioner apparently continues to be concerned about how Google takes advantage of the AdWords API.

Google has been asked to provide more information in all these areas of its operations.

Canada's Competition Bureau, an independent law enforcement agency, decided to go ahead with the inquiry. This is possibly due to the fact that Google's settlement in January was seen as victory for the search giant, as the US Federal Trade Commission said after the case that it would no longer pursue allegations that Google showed bias in its search results.

Google is also embroiled in an antitrust case in Europe. In trying to avoid a fine in that case the company has offered to label all links to its own sites in search results.