EU warns Google to address antitrust concerns in Europe

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by CBR Staff Writer| 21 September 2012

Google may be accused of infringing EU rules

Search engine giant Google has been warned by the chief of the European Union (EU) that it could face charges of breaking antitrust rules by using its dominant position in the market. It could be fined if it does not address antitrust concerns in its Internet search business.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that concessions from Google, which is negotiating with the European Commission to resolve complaints from rivals including Microsoft, had not gone far enough.

"We are not there yet, and it must be clear that - in the absence of satisfactory proposals in the short term - I will be obliged to continue with our formal proceedings," Almunia said. "If effective solutions were found quickly and tested successfully, competition could be restored at an early stage."

Since 2010, the EU's antitrust has been observing whether Google's search engine supports its own assets, including YouTube, by offering higher priority on the search results page, while actively downgrading assets of rivals, including Microsoft, one of the claimants.

The agency is also probing whether Google may have illegally used rivals' travel and restaurant reviews.

According to the watchdog, if the case does go to court and Google is found guilty of violating EU antitrust rules, it may be fined about 10% of its global revenues, about £2bn.

In another issue, EU watchdog is also observing complaints regarding Google's Android operating system.

"It is high time they look for negotiated solutions - I am tempted to call them 'peace talks' - that would put an end to the patent wars," added Almunia.

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