SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Is Google playing by the rules in the highly competitive online search market? That’s what European regulators want to know as they launch the first ever antitrust probe into the Mountain View company.

Google is accused of shutting out competitors by listing search results to their services below its own services. For example, Google’s price comparisons appear before those of another website.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

In the complaint filed by two European websites, the search giant is also charged with preventing competitors’ ads from appearing on its site.

”If the investigation discloses that Google has biased results in the way that some are claiming then I think this will hurt Google’s reputation,” said John Lopatka, Penn State law professor.

The probe is from the same European Commission that just last year concluded a long-running antitrust case involving Microsoft Corp. that lead to over $1 billion of fines.

Robert Lande, director of the American Antitrust Institutes, said that this could be a very difficult case to prove.

”Even if they are biasing their results, and that’s a big if, it would be very difficult to show, given their search algorithm,” said Lande.

In an email statement, Google said they are working with the commission to address any concerns.

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