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Google Asks Europe For More Time To Respond To Antitrust Charges
Company now has until August 31 to formally respond to shopping objections.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google has been given extra time (until August 31) to respond to the European Commission’s antitrust charges. The original deadline was August 17, next Monday; however, Google requested additional time.
Notwithstanding historical complaints about maps/local and other vertical areas, for the present, the “Statement of Objections” (formal antitrust charges) only concerns comparison shopping. This is probably where the European Commission feels it has the strongest case against Google.
Here are some of the claims that were presented in the Statement of Objections:
- Google systematically positions and prominently displays its comparison shopping service in its general search results pages, irrespective of its merits.
- Google does not apply to its own comparison shopping service the system of penalties which it applies to other comparison shopping services on the basis of defined parameters, and which can lead to the lowering of the rank in which they appear in Google’s general search results pages.
- As a result of Google’s systematic favouring of its subsequent comparison shopping services “Google Product Search” and “Google Shopping”, both experienced higher rates of growth, to the detriment of rival comparison shopping services.
The requested extension of time is for Google to formally rebut the charges.
The European Commission has said that Google’s surprise reorganization and formation of Alphabet, Inc. this week would not affect its procedures or investigation of the company. There’s an early stage Android-related investigation underway, as well.
Postscript: Politico further explains procedurally that if an oral hearing were held (it’s not clear if this is mandatory or can be waived) then all of Google’s official complaint-opponents would be invited to attend:
An oral hearing would have gained Google more time to defend itself, and given it a chance to speak directly to the most senior bureaucrats in the EU competition authority.
But it could have backfired if Google’s rivals attended en masse to lay out their complaints and tilted the Commission in their favor. All 20 official complainants and 10 interested parties would have been invited.