Google and Microsoft are at loggerheads over a routine lawsuit Google Inc. filed against a small internet site in Ohio, for which Microsoft has provided high-grade legal counsel. “Seeking $335,000 in unpaid advertising bills, Google Inc. filed suit against a small Internet site in Ohio in October. The complaint was so routine it was just two sentences long. Google never expected the response it got. Last month, the small Internet site countered with a 24-page antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the search-engine giant of a litany of monopolistic abuses. But what really caught Google’s attention was the Internet site’s legal counsel: It was Charles ‘Rick’ Rule, long the chief outside counsel on competition issues for Google archrival Microsoft Corp. ‘My reaction was, ‘What the heck is this?’’ says Mark Sheriff, an Ohio attorney who represents Google, speaking of the involvement of Mr. Rule and his powerhouse law firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, whose antitrust practice is based in Washington, D.C. ‘It’s not every day that a big D.C. law firm like Cadwalader gets involved in a collections lawsuit in Ohio.’ Mr. Rule also represents another small Internet firm that has brought an antitrust suit against Google. Meanwhile, in Europe, following complaints about Google that came from, among others, a Microsoft subsidiary in Germany, the European Commission has opened a preliminary antitrust inquiry into the search giant.”
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