Report: Google Makes Offer To Europeans To Prevent Antitrust Action

According to an article appearing in Bloomberg this morning, Google has complied with the European Commission’s July 2 deadline and made concessions to address its four antitrust “concerns.” Details of the offer and potential Google concessions weren’t revealed:

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt sent EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia a letter responding to the probe, the EU said in a statement. The settlement offer addresses the “four areas the European Commission described” as potential concerns, Google spokesman Al Verney said in a separate e-mail. Details of the proposals weren’t disclosed.

The four concerns laid out in a May letter from Almunia to Google were the following:

  1. Google’s “vertical” results: “In general search results, Google displays links to its own vertical search services differently than it does for links to competitors. We are concerned that this may result in preferential treatment compared to those of competing services, which may be hurt as a consequence.”
  2. Use of third party reviews content: “Google may be copying original material from the websites of its competitors such as user reviews and using that material on its own sites without their prior authorisation. In this way they are appropriating the benefits of the investments of competitors.”
  3. AdSense exclusivity: “The agreements [with publishers displaying Google ads] result in de facto exclusivity requiring them to obtain all or most of their requirements of search advertisements from Google, thus shutting out competing providers of search advertising intermediation services.”
  4. Portability of ad campaigns from AdWords: “We are concerned that Google imposes contractual restrictions on software developers which prevent them from offering tools that allow the seamless transfer of search advertising campaigns across AdWords and other platforms for search advertising.”

As we’ve written previously, three out of the four are relatively easy to address. Indeed, Google’s implementation of Zagat reviews should render issue #2 moot. Issues #3 and #4 I assume Google will address fully in its offer to Almunia. The problem issue is #1, which goes directly to Google’s ability to control and develop its own product and search results.

I think Google will make a partial offer of some sort on the “vertical content” issue — I’ve suggested labeling. But Google is going to be unwilling to marginalize or “erase” its own content from SERPs (e.g., Maps, Shopping, Video). Indeed, the new Jelly Bean mobile SERP goes in the opposite direction, burying conventional search results and third-party sites in many instances in favor of new graphical info “cards.”

Almunia is under pressure to look and talk tough to Google but he has signaled he doesn’t want to file an action against the company — in part because of the expense and time involved, and in part because it’s not clear he’d succeed. We’ll update this post if we learn more about what Google has offered.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Critics | Google: Legal | Google: Outside US | Legal: Regulation | Top News

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • Peter Cao

    Eric Schmidt had threatened my life with the death of Stanford student May Zhou during his fight with Stanford. Eric Schmidt is part of this plot in May Zhou’s death. He had also conspired my life at a later time, and which had cost his title of Google CEO.
    It started from a 2004 Stanford campus assault case, in which a lady named Gabriele Scheler bitterly assaulted me; Police concluded that I am a victim while Scheler is a criminal suspect after serious investigation; However Sebastian Thrun later joined Scheler to false accuse me at Stanford, and Eric Schmidt had joined them to support Sebastian Thrun and Gabriele Scheler against ruling from Stanford and police. During their tough fight with Stanford in the early 2007, Eric Schmidt and Sebasitan Thrun’s side had murderred May Zhou to threaten me, by telling me: “You see May Zhou, she’s an Asian (me too an Asian), … Police might not even find out who did it, what if it happened to you?” , and to terrorize Stanford (because May Zhou is Stanford student), and they did plot an unsuccessful murder on me as well last year when they found I would not compromise but insist on clarifying their crimes
    These accusations had been confirmed by authorities investigation and stand still which Eric Schmidt tried to put on self-deceiption with several lies while Sebastian Thrun dare not deny to the public so far. Eric Schmidt and Sebastian Thrun had not paid for their crimes

  • Peter Cao

    There is actually a war between fascism and anti-fascism, at this stage, fascism still prevails in our lives, Eric Schmidt, Sebastian Thrun and Gabriele Scheler are just front figures we could see in this fascism circle, there is a whole pack of fascists behind them
    Eric, as we can see, starting from Gabriele Scheler’s atrocity case on Stanford campus back in 2004, many people, including Gabriele Scheler, Sebastian Thrun, you Eric Schmidt, and also your collegue in China Kaifu Lee, had made contributions to such fascism crimes which had cost human life of Stanford student May Zhou and crimes which had retaliated on victims and almost cost life of the victim as I am
    … … and someone who had provided legal coverage for your fascism crimes, including a powerful officer from Santa Clara DA Office, namely ZZZ (and after ZZZ, YYY), and who had further collateralled with your side(suspect side) to conspire and curse victims( Stanford, May Zhou, me) in every possible way since 2006 till today; and maybe include the officer who insist on May Zhou’s death as a suicide or accident, even though I had clearly pointed out who’s involved in May Zhou’s murder case …
    … … and someone who could provide political support for your fascism crimes, including top politician from the country of Germany whom we all know, and maybe include a retired top politician from UK as well, etc. and more and more to find out later …
    ———————————————————————————–I believe, though some names missed out, all names mentioned in the above comment are part of this fascism circle

  • Peter Cao

    On 2012/02/21 StanfordDaily article “virtual-learning” [http://www.stanforddaily.com/2012/02/21/virtual-learning/] in Comments part regarding to a murder case about a Stanford student May Zhou with which Eric Schmidt had threatened my life for sake of a stanford professor Sebastian Thrun and a criminal suspect named Gabriele Scheler during their fight with Stanford:
    ================================================
    @concernedNetCitizen,
    About your ARROGANT question “If you think you have evidence (and i mean physical evidence) to the contrary why do you not take it to the police, or at least post what evidence you have (and I mean PHYSICAL evidence like fibres, DNA, fingerprints and the like).” ———–I am not physically in America, so I’d rather communicate with the police officer who’s respnosible for May Zhou’s case via email to tell serious stuff, my contact [peter_vista@yahoo.com] , or we could discuss it right here on this board. Before the officer who’s responsible would contact me for a serious discussion, how could you know there is no such PHYSICAL evidence to say May Zhou’s death is definitely a murder but not a suicide? As a matter of fact, such PHYSICAL evidence already exists and that’s what I am going to tell.
    The point at this time is, who is this officer who’s respnosible for May Zhou’s case, whom I should talk to? Could you have me connect with this officer? I have serious stuff to report
    Meanwhile, why don’t you help us to figure out what’s the motivation behind May Zhou’s death

  • Peter Cao

    Eric, the point at this time is, my accusations, which including killing the innocent, conspire life of the victim, etc. are clearly stated while you tried to put on self-deception with several lies, and also I had challenged the officer who’s responsible for this case, while he/she dare not reply, all of which would make people more curious of what did you involve and more believe in what I said
    Eric, we know your name has a huge impact on human society, but how could you stand for your fame without completely clarifiying those accusations listed here? Can you deny any one of them?

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