Google Sues the Federal Government, Demands a Fair Shake

A court battle with the Feds sounds like something the search giant would want to avoid. But a suit filed by Google last week doesn't have anything to do with antitrust troubles. Instead, the suit accuses the federal government of failing to give Google Apps a fair shake when searching for a Web-based documents system. The unindicted co-conspirator in all of this: Microsoft.

According to the lawsuit (hat tip: CNET), Google never had a chance to host the Department of the Interior's document system because the DOI required the winning system to be part of Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite—an "arbitrary and capricious" requirement. In a letter sent to the DOI this past Spring, Google complained, "We believe these Microsoft-based requirements would violate the Competition in Contracting Act because they bear no rational relationship to the DOI's needs, are not written to enhance competition or innovation, and unduly restrict competition."

This isn't the first Internet-related lawsuit that the federal government has had to deal with in recent days. Last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed three suits against the Department of Justice, demanding records about limitations that restrict electronic surveillance.

But the government withholding records is nothing new. Alleged favoritism towards Microsoft, however, is a whole different deal. Given that Google and Microsoft are currently doing battle over the field of cloud computing, an area that is very much up for grabs, it sounds like the folks at Mountain View have a pretty strong case here — and the outcome could have wide-reaching implications for both companies.

 

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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