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Microsoft Funding Anti-Google Trade Group Since 2007

Under the somewhat sensational headline, “Dark forces gunning for Google,” The Telegraph today shared the story of ICOMP — the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace — a European-based trade group that appears to exist mostly, or solely, to be a thorn in Google’s side.

On its website, ICOMP hits all the right notes. Its mission statement talks about “support for principles that are essential to a healthy online environment” and “the adoption of best practices to promote creativity, innovation, safety and trust.”

But the group also says that “no single company should be allowed to abuse its market power to the detriment of competition or consumers,” and that seems to hint at its real target: Google. In fact, ICOMP’s Industry News page should be called a “Google investigations and complaints” page: Of the 40 articles listed, only three don’t have Google’s name in the headline.

As The Telegraph article points out, Microsoft is listed as ICOMP’s “initial trustee” in this PDF available on the group’s web site, and there’s small print in the site footer that says ICOMP is “funded by member contributions as well as sponsorship from Microsoft.” All of this actually goes back to 2007, when Microsoft and PR agency, Burson-Marsteller, formed ICOMP and began to fight against Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick.

As we’ve covered before on Search Engine Land, Google and Microsoft have already sparred over ICOMP in their previous verbal fisticuffs. No doubt the sparring will continue as the two continue to compete in so many spaces (search, mobile, handsets, operating systems, and so forth).

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