The European Commission will issue a statement of objections spanning more than 400 pages that will spell-out allegations of Google’s abuse of dominance early next year, according to sources close to EC reports dealReporter.
Google is accused of using its dominance in the search market to favor Google services such as Product Search and YouTube at the expense of other companies in these sectors.
According to a source close to the case noted that it is not surprising that the SO will be lengthy given the level of complexity of this case and, indeed, the number of complainants. It may also indicate that the EC is preparing for a decision of a similar length, the source added. The file is actually a combination of several cases as Google is being blamed for multiple and multifaceted abuses, another source close indicated. All of those cases could count for a couple of hundreds of pages each.
The EC investigation arose out of formal anti-competition complaints initially filed by three companies: Foundem, eJustice and Ciao (owned by Microsoft) last year. While each of these complaints appear to have dubious merit in isolation, they collectively create the perception of anti-competitive activity on Google’s part. Indeed, since they were filed several other European companies have joined, bringing the number of formal complaints filed against Mountain View to roughly 10.
Google responded to the complainants’ allegations in September and is “cooperating with the EC and responding to its information requests.”
It is in Google’s interest to try and settle. And it is more likely than not that Google will try to do so to avoid a fine of up to 10% of its annual turnover, one of the sources close noted.
Further more, Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt is expected to pay a “courtesy visit” to the Commissioner Almunia at the beginning of next week. The chairman is likely coming to discuss Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility to make sure it goes through smoothly.
In other Google related legal news, Google is set to appeal as soon as January of a conviction by an Italian court of two managers and a former executive for violating privacy laws involved in allowing Google Video content to be posted, said Peter Fleischer, the company’s global privacy counsel and a defendant in the case, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.
The case involves a video clip uploaded to Google Video in 2006 by a group of Turin school students, who filmed themselves harassing an autistic classmate.
Milan Judge Oscar Magi ruled in February that Fleischer; David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development; and a former chief financial officer, were guilty of privacy violations. They were sentenced to six-month terms, which were suspended.