Saturday, May 18, 2024
Lawyers Run The WorldGoogle Makes New Offer to Settle EU Anti-Trust Case

Google Makes New Offer to Settle EU Anti-Trust Case

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Google has put forth a new offer to settle an ongoing legal case brought against them through the European Union.  Several months ago Google put forth an offer to attempt to settle the case, but the EU’s Competition Commissioner (yes, that’s a real position), Joaquin Almunia did not accept the terms.  Google has now put a new offer on the table, which Almunia called a “Significant Improvement” though he won’t comment on whether or not he’ll accept the offer.

Google’s compeditors, spearheaded by FairSearch.org, are pushing for more from Google.  There are four main areas of concern, according to The European Competition Commission, which are:

  1. Does Google give preference to other Google properties (such as YouTube or Google News) when serving search results?
  2. Does Google use reviews and other content from other pages on the Internet as its own, without authorization.
  3. Google’s AdSense advertising network limits competition because they have agreements with publishers who display the ads.
  4. Advertisers using the AdSense platform can’t easily transfer their ad campaigns to other networks such as Microsoft’s AdCenter.

So, if I’m reading this properly, the case is largely based on the fact that Google doesn’t make it easy for their competitors to do business.  Google tends to place the financial success of Google first, at the expense of other companies attempting to provide the same or similar services to the marketplace.

This is largely confirmed by the fact that Google has agreed to the following actions in an attempt to end this case:

  1. Google will clearly label its own properties in search results so users can see when search results are directed to other Google properties.
  2. Google will prominently show at least three links to rival, non-Google sites that have information relevant to a user’s query.
  3. Google will submit to third party verification of compliance to the agreement.

So, Google has to adjust their services to ensure non-Google companies are being seen at or near the top of the search results (and other areas for different types of searches).  If, that is, the competition commission accepts the deal.  Many expect that they will reject it, and bring the case to full court where it could end up costing Google billions.

Most experts familiar with the situation believe that unless there are more concessions from Google, Google’s competitors won’t accept them.  Almunia still has the ability to accept the settlement without support from Google’s competitors, but he is not likely to do so.  Almunia would face significant political pressure to deny Google’s offer if it is not supported by the competitors.

There is not yet an estimated date on when Almunia will accept or deny the offer from Google.

What do you think of this case?  While I’m not a huge fan of many of the practices of Google, I don’t think the Internet needs a “competition commission” to regulate it for me.  If I don’t like Google’s practices I can simply use the Bing search engine, or any of the dozens of other options out there (which I have largely done).  Allowing competitors of Google to influence a legal case about competition sounds all too much like what was done to Hank Reardon in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”  Hopefully our future will be different than that of the fictitious novel.  Then again…Who is John Galt?

Pesach Lattin
Pesach Lattinhttp://www.adotat.com
Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pesach Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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