Nine Antitrust Complaints Against Google in the European Commission

Additional five antitrust complaints has reportedly been filed against Google which the European regulators, as rivals ramped up the pressure on the world No. 1 search engine, reports Reuters. "The Commission has nine formal complaints now."The Commission has up to now only confirmed four cases against Google. The addition of fresh complaints could broaden the […]

Additional five antitrust complaints has reportedly been filed against Google which the European regulators, as rivals ramped up the pressure on the world No. 1 search engine, reports Reuters. "The Commission has nine formal complaints now."

The Commission has up to now only confirmed four cases against Google. The addition of fresh complaints could broaden the EU watchdog's ongoing probe and pile pressure on the company to strike a settlement.

The EU Commission opened an investigation into Google in November last year following allegations by three small companies that Google demoted their sites in Web search engines because they were rivals.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is also investigating Google following accusations that it abused its market dominance. The U.S. Senate's antitrust panel will hold a hearing on Google's market clout on September 21.

The source said three cases came from national regulators while two were fresh complaints.

When the formal antitrust inquiry was announced last November the European Commission issued this statement about the nature and focus of its investigation:

The Commission will investigate whether Google has abused a dominant market position in online search by allegedly lowering the ranking of unpaid search results of competing services which are specialised in providing users with specific online content such as price comparisons (so-called vertical search services) and by according preferential placement to the results of its own vertical search services in order to shut out competing services.

The Commission will also look into allegations that Google lowered the 'Quality Score' for sponsored links of competing vertical search services. The Quality Score is one of the factors that determine the price paid to Google by advertisers.

The Commission's probe will additionally focus on allegations that Google imposes exclusivity obligations on advertising partners, preventing them from placing certain types of competing ads on their web sites, as well as on computer and software vendors, with the aim of shutting out competing search tools. Finally, it will investigate suspected restrictions on the portability of online advertising campaign data to competing online advertising platforms.

The Commission said it had nothing to add and Google could not be reached for comment.

"The mere proliferation of complaints doesn't increase the likelihood of infringements. It means there are issues certain parties want to be investigated."

The Commission can fine companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover for breaching EU rules. It has in recent years imposed billion-euro penalties on Microsoft and Intel for anticompetitive behavior.

That would represent at least $3 billion at current revenue levels.


[Via: Reuters]