Google Inc (GOOG) Rivals Gets 4 Weeks To Review Antitrust

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The European Union said that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) rivals will have four weeks to review Google’s proposals that address antitrust concerns.  The proposal includes the way that Google displays search results in response that they promote their own services too much especially in terms of local and shopping services.  Google is also changing the prices that they charge rivals to appear in search results.

Google proposed displaying three sets of results from rival search engines in a box under their own shopping results.  Their rivals will have to pay to feature there through an auction.  The reserve price for search terms has been cut to EUR0.03 from EUR0.10.  The terms they can bid for are more specifically defined than in the previous proposal.

“The aim of the commitment is to show rivals have visibility on screen,” stated an EU official. “It’s not for us to mandate the final outcome” for what users click on.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that they are hoping to reach a decision on a settlement to the investigation by next spring.  The investigation started three years ago.

“We’ve made significant changes to address the [European Commission]’s concerns, greatly increasing the visibility of rival services and addressing other specific issues,” stated Google.  “Unfortunately, our competitors seem less interested in resolving things than in entangling us in a never-ending dispute.”

iComp representative David Wood said that the proposal is not sufficient.  “Google still doesn’t appear to have offered anything that will prevent it from systematically preferencing its own services and manipulating results, a clear failure of the initial offer,” said Wood.  iComp is a group of companies involved in Internet commerce, specifically online publishers, advertisers, and network providers.  Some of the member companies are AdKit, CTN, Microsoft, PicScout, HotMap, TradeComet, and Videojug.

“What is needed is a principle-based forward-looking approach, including a clear commitment not to discriminate against its rivals,” added Wood.

[Source: Dow Jones]

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