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Google Makes Antitrust Settlement Offer to EU Google Makes Antitrust Settlement Offer to EU

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Tech

Google Makes Antitrust Settlement Offer to EU

July 2, 2012

Google offered on Monday to settle antitrust concerns raised by Europe's top antitrust regulator. The offer was made in a letter from Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt to Joaquin Almunia, the European Commission vice president for Competition, but the details were not disclosed by either party.

"We have made a proposal to address the four areas the European Commission described as potential concerns," a Google spokesman said in an e-mailed statement. "We continue to work cooperatively with the Commission."

The EU's preliminary case against Google alleged that the search giant favored its own properties in search results and unfairly disadvantaged rivals.

Additionally, Almunia wrote in a May letter to Eric Schimdt, Google did not allow advertising customers to conveniently move ad campaigns between competing search engines, that it was unfairly scraping copyright-protected content, and that sites that used Google as their default search engine were unfairly prevented from accepting ads from rival search services.

If a settlement is not reached and a formal "Statement of Objections" is filed by the EU, Google could be liable for fines of up to 10 percent of its total annual revenue.

Thomas Vinje, EU counsel to the FairSearch coalition, which represents some of the companies that have complained to regulators about Google's business practices said, "We hope the proposals reflect a greater willingness to end Google's anti-competitive behavior than has its consistent rejection of the concerns that Mr. Almunia identified after collecting evidence for nearly two years."

Google faces a similar probe in the U.S. by the Federal Trade Commission.

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