Report: Google Strikes Antitrust Deal With EU, Avoids Legal Battle

According to a report in the Financial Times, Google and the EU have agreed in principle to the “outlines of a settlement” that will avoid a legal battle over antitrust claims against the company. The settlement reportedly also extends to mobile search, an issue that emerged late in the talks and threatened to disrupt a potential settlement.

The details of the settlement framework — and precisely what concessions Google is making — are not known or public right now. However that information will come out in the next days and weeks. Google will likely release its own statement.

In one form or another, the concessions need to address the four “concerns” that the EU previously laid out in a May letter to Google:

  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.”

According to the FT report, “The breakthrough came after Google said it would in principle extend the remedies it had offered to make for PC-based search to cover mobile search services too.”

We’ve asked Google for a comment and will update this post if we receive one or if any new details come out.

Postscript: Google has not confirmed the settlement and provided only the following statement: “We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission.”

The FT report may be somewhat premature. We’ll see over the course of the next few days whether a formal announcement is made.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Features: Analysis | Google: Legal | Google: Mobile | Legal: Regulation | Top News


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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  • IMBenson

    Interesting read…anxious to know more about the details of the whole situation. Still, I think the fact that a settlement was reached and agreed upon is what’s most important.

  • modelportfolio2003

    Removes big regulatory overhang from Google and forms basis for discussions with FTC.

  • Greg Sterling

    We’ll have to see. Google hasn’t confirmed anything. The FT report may be premature.

  • Cowboydroid

    European state-sponsored economic thuggery, at its finest.

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