Got a gripe with Google? GRIP launches to take on antitrust civil cases

An international law firm is on the hunt for companies that believe they've been harmed by Google's allegedly anti-competitive practices.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

A public affairs and international law firm has launched a website with the sole purpose of unearthing European companies that have a gripe with Google and want to sue it.

Google is already facing European antitrust charges for allegedly abusing its dominance in search to favour its own vertical services, such as shopping search. Google could one day also face civil suits thanks to the website grip.eu, which claims to offer "essential services for businesses and individuals who have been hurt by Google's unfair practices to assess the viability of potential claims".

The website launched on Tuesday and is jointly run by European public affairs firm Avisa and international law firm Hausfeld.

According to the grip.eu site, Avisa has worked with French search engine 1PlusV, which sued Google in 2011 for €295m, accusing it of blacklisting 30 of its vertical search engines. 1PlusV was one behind one of the first complaints that triggered the EC's initial investigation in 2010.

Avisa and Hausfeld are searching for companies and individuals in Europe who have a solid case against Google. Those that qualify can join GRIP, which stands for Google Redress & Integrity Platform, for a one-off entry fee of between €10,000 and €50,000, for companies with an annual turnover of below €100,000 to beyond €10m.

The companies are offering would-be claimants the option of not paying the costs of litigation upfront, in favour of giving away a share of any compensation won.

Avisa will be filtering out companies to assess whether they have a solid case before referring them on to Hausfeld.

The pair say GRIP was formed because they believe the number of businesses and individuals potentially affected by Google's allegedly anticompetitive behaviour could be significant.

GRIP will also be used to keep members informed about Google's EU antitrust investigation and other legal developments around the world.

"GRIP wants to become a reference point for the analysis of information and first assessment of the viability of potential claims arising of out Google's anticompetitive behaviour," it states.

According to the New York Times, if the EC finds that Google has violated EU antitrust law, Hausfeld and Avisa would most likely use the ruling as evidence in any potential civil cases.

Google's most recent response to charges said that Europe's competition regulator botched its analysis of online shopping services, failed to consider the role of rivals in the space like Amazon and eBay, and didn't "provide a clear legal theory to connect its claims with its proposed remedy".

Read more

Editorial standards