Google at Center of Antitrust Probe in India

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-03-10 Print this article Print

To help make the sources of such content easier by users, Google will now have to "display prominent links to three rival specialized search services in a format which is visually comparable to that of links to its own services," the EU stated. "For instance, if the Google links have images, the rival links will have images as well, including on mobile devices."

The settlement dance between the EU and Google has been going on since at least early 2013, when it appeared that the two sides were close to a tentative deal. Similar rumors about settlements also surfaced in November 2013.

But competitors, including Microsoft, Expedia and Foundem, often criticized the proposals that arose in the past, arguing that they still didn't go far enough to level the playing field for rivals.

In October 2013, after Google had submitted an earlier settlement offer, the EU asked Google rivals for their opinions on the offer from Google. Those rivals loudly criticized the company's proposals at the time. In September, Google had submitted a fresh batch of concession proposals to the EU, but they failed to address the key concerns of the EU and the complainants in the case.

Those proposals arrived two months after the EC had asked for more concession ideas from Google. The EC had been seeking Google's ideas on how it could settle complaints that the company was blocking competitors' results in Web searches in favor of its own results.  

Google has been under investigation in Europe since 2010 regarding its search engine, which holds more than 60 percent of the search market, with Microsoft's Bing being a distant second. Competitors have claimed that Google works its search algorithms to favor its own products and results over those of others, giving it an unfair advantage in search and Web advertising.

Google's legal situation in Europe continues, even as a similar antitrust probe in the United States was resolved in Google's favor in January 2013. Instead of a major antitrust prosecution in the United States, Google entered into a voluntary agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to change some of its business practices to resolve the complaints of some competitors about Google's practices. In the FTC case, key competitor Microsoft had led a fight with other technology companies to argue for strong FTC actions against Google to punish it for what they believed were unfair business practices.



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