Search giant Google, submerged in antitrust wrangles for years, has settled with the European Commission, pending formal approval. The European Commission had been investigating Google for the last three years for alleged abuse of its dominant market position.
On Wednesday, the European Commission made an announcement acknowledging the “far-reaching” concessions made by the search engine that, according to the metrics company Comscore, holds about a 75% share of the search engine market in Europe. The agreement has deflected a multibillion euro fine.
The case emerged from complaints by 18 rivals, including Microsoft and TripAdvisor, that Google was privileging the search results of its own products. Studies had been done over the course of the investigation that provided evidence of significance skewing of results in favour of Google products. In 2009, Foundem, a service that does price comparisons, complained to the European Commission
While Google had previously proposed to indicate with a logo when the search engine was promoting a Google product, the commission was not satisfied. The European Commission said in a statement that Google had now agreed to offer “comparable” consideration to competitors.
Google lawyer Kent Walker said: “We will be making significant changes to the way Google operates in Europe. We have been working with the European Commission to address issues they raised.”
Europe’s competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia has accepted Google´s agreement to show links to rivals alongside Google links in specialized searches; for example, if you’re looking for a product online, like a television set. These results, however, will now be labelled and appear beside three alternative shopping search sites.
Rival companies, however, are not satisfied about the conclusion of what appears to be a case ending soon. Rivals object to auctions for slots, and FairSearch Europe is one of Google’s adversaries who want market tests done prior to settlement. Competitors bidding for spots will be putting more money into Google’s pockets, which FairSearch Europe considers “worse than doing nothing.”
The Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace (Icomp), backed by Microsoft, said: “A settlement without third party review is a massive failure. We need time and opportunity to ensure full technical assessment of how effective the proposed remedies would be.”