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Google Antitrust “Settlement” Take Two: Not Quite Yet
On the basis of statements and representations made in a Financial Times report, I wrote a post yesterday entitled “Google Strikes Antitrust Deal With EU, Avoids Legal Battle.” But it’s clear 24 hours later that it was premature to make such sweeping statements and declare the case “settled” in Europe.
A Reuters article today makes clear that a settlement has not been formally agreed. In the article, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia speaks in the future tense about gaining a settlement agreement with Google.
What appears to be true is that Google has made general concessions that form the basis of a way forward for technical settlement discussions. What might be described as a “conceptual framework” for settlement is likely in place. The company also appears to have agreed to include Android and mobile search in the settlement discussions. That’s something that arose at the last minute and was not part of the original statement of “concerns” issued by the EU.
Commissioner Almunia, according to Reuters, characterized the progress of negotiations between the parties as having reached “a level of good understanding.” It’s still possible that talks to could hit a snag when the parties enter “technical discussions.” However Google is motivated to avoid the distraction and expense of a protracted legal battle.
Below is a interview conducted this week with Almunia in which he says “a good degree of understanding” has been reached with Google and that things are progressing well. “So far so good,” he says.