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Europe may hit Google with antitrust complaint in early 2012

updated 06:25 pm EST, Fri December 2, 2011

European Commision preps 400pg Google order

The European Commission could formally accuse Google of antitrust abuse early next year, insiders disclosed late Thursday. A large 400-page draft of a statement of objections was underway, the Financial Times said, that would accuse Google of an "abuse of dominance." It would be an amalgam of different complaints that would involve Microsoft, likely including its formal complaints over ad interoperability and access to code for YouTube apps.

More general complaints would include its prioritizing both its own or paid search results over others. Exclusivity requirements for ads both on the web and in software would also be subjects.

Google would have two months to answer the complaint, according to the sources. Commission members might be drafting a formal decision virtually as long as the initial statement. Under EU law, if Google was found to be in violation and didn't agree to make changes, it might have to pay as much as 10 percent of its fiscal turnover, or billions of dollars.

The search engine might be aware of tentative action. Along with a possible offer as far back as February Chairman Eric Schmidt is believed to be traveling to the Commissioner Alumnia in a "courtesy visit" early next week. Ostensibly to ease concerns over the buyout of Motorola, it may end up being an early gauge Google's awareness of its competitive issues with the European Union "carefully watching" Schmidt's behavior.

Whether or not it was aware before now, Google may avoid the mistakes made by Microsoft, which chose to insist it did nothing wrong and ended up paying roughly $1.4 billion on top of the changes it had to implement.

Any case could have a significant impact on smartphone policies, not just the web. Complaints from Korea have accused Google of barring rival search engines under certain Android licensing terms, and others have accused Google of conducting the sort of cross-industry abuses that Microsoft did in the 1990s, by using its dominance in one area (search) to give away a product in a way that others can't match (Android).

By Electronista Staff


  1. MyRightEye

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008



    The EU - claiming someone ELSE has a monopoly.... Freacking HILARIOUS!!

  1. glideslope

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Mar 2002



    Eric, you should have taken Steve's offer.

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