EU antitrust body seeks views on Google concessions

Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:19am EDT
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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Google's rivals will have the chance to comment on concessions proposed by the U.S. internet company to end an EU antitrust investigation, in a move that could force the company to improve its offer or even scupper a deal.

Complainants including Microsoft, online travel sites TripAdvisor and Expedia, newspaper publishers, mapping sites and price comparison sites, will have around a month to respond, the EU competition authority said on Thursday.

Several of them including lobby group ICOMP, which counts Microsoft and four other complainants among its members, said they were likely to press for more concessions.

Google, the world's most popular search engine, submitted its proposals earlier this month after the European Commission outlined four areas of concern about its business practices, saying these could restrict consumer choice and competition.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said at the time he would try to reach a decision, including legally-binding commitments, based on Google's proposals. But this could change, depending on the arguments made by Google's rivals.

Without a deal, Google could face a hefty fine.

The EU competition authority said on Thursday Google's proposals included marking out its services from rival products in Internet search results and providing links to at least three competing search engines.

Specialized websites will be able to opt out from the use of all their content in Google's own specialized search services and will also be able to mark out specific categories of information to prevent its use by Google.   Continued...

A Google sign is seen at a Best Buy electronics store in this photo illustration in Encinitas, California April 11, 2013. Google will report their earnings on April 18th. Picture taken April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake