Commission would finalise a remedies package if Google proposes solutions
The European Commission (EC) anti-trust officials have said that internet search giant, Google may have misused its dominance online to kill competition and offered the company a ‘matter of weeks’ to settle the allegations to avoid formal charges.
EC had written to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt regarding the EC’s concerns, after a lengthy investigation.
The Commission noted that it will initiate the discussions to finalise a remedies package if Google proposes an outline of remedies which can address the concerns.
EC vice president Joaquin Almunia said this would allow to solve concerns by means of a commitment decision – pursuant to Article 9 of the EU Antitrust Regulation – instead of having to pursue formal proceedings with a Statement of objections and to adopt a decision imposing fines and remedies.
"Any final proposal by Google will be market-tested before it is made legally binding by the Commission," he added.
"Should this process fail to deliver a satisfactory set of remedies, the on-going formal proceedings will of course continue, including the possible sending of a Statement of Objections."
Among the four areas listed, the first relates to its general search results on the web, where Google displays links to its own vertical search services, specialised search engines which focus on specific topics, such as news or products.
In its general search results, Google displays links to its own vertical search services differently than it does for links to competitors, which the Commission says is concerning as this may result in preferential treatment and hurt competing services.
The second is about the way Google copies content from competing vertical search services and uses it in its own offerings.
Third, relates to Google’s deals with partners on the websites of which the company delivers search advertisements and the fourth centers on restrictions that Google puts to the portability of online search advertising campaigns from its platform AdWords to the platforms of competitors.
The case stems after the Commission launched an antitrust investigation in November 2010 following a number of complaints from Google’s competitors that the search engine giant had abused a dominant market position in the online search market.