Google EU Antitrust Case: 7 Things You Should Know

Mountain View Speaks, Facing A $5 Billion EU Antitrust Fine

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Google's offices in London shown. The company has commented on its antitrust proposals in an investigation by the EU. Courtesy / Reuters

Google said on Monday that the company has done a “pretty good job” developing concessions to antitrust complaints. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has faced a European Commission investigation since 2010 over claims its business practices were anticompetitive.

Here are seven things you need to know so far in the EU antitrust suit:

1.) Google responded to the EU in April by offering revised proposals: the company would make it easier for advertisers to utilize competitors or leave the search engine entirely. Google also promised to label its products better in online searches and offer websites an opt-out feature to exclude content from searches.

2.) Google faces a $5 billion fine if it cannot settle the case.

3.) The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, originally acted on complaints from more than a dozen companies, including Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), which said Google’s proposed concessions would have a negative effect on its competition, making it even more dominant in Internet search and causing its rivals to compete more among themselves.

4.) Google’s comments are in response to claims from competitors and EU Commissioner Joaquín Almunia, who told the European parliament in May that he would ask Google to improve its proposals.

5.) Google SVP and General Counsel Kent Walker said Monday that its offer was specifically tailored to answer the commission’s preliminary concerns.

“We know that scrutiny comes along with success, and we have worked hard to answer their questions thoroughly and thoughtfully,” Walker wrote on the company’s blog.

He said the commission’s preliminary concerns were each met with a “constructive” proposal, and that Google has provided “additional choice and information while also leaving room for future innovation.”

“As we’ve always said, we build Google for users, not websites," he wrote. "And we don’t want to hamper the very innovations that people like best about Google’s services,” Walker wrote. “That’s why we focused on addressing the commission’s specific concerns, and we think we did a pretty good job.”

6.) The EU can choose to make Google's proposals legally binding if it finds that it satisfactorily addresses rivals' complaints.

7.) While the U.S. Federal Trade Commission ended an investigation into Google’s search products in January, the company now faces new scrutiny from the commission for its acquisition of Waze, a user-updated traffic and navigation app that the company had planned to integrate into its Google Maps products.

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