antitrust Stories October 20, 2020

Following reports and rumors for several weeks, the US Justice Department has officially announced an antitrust lawsuit against Google and its search dominance in the United States. The suit is supported by 11 States.

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antitrust Stories September 3, 2020

According to the New York Times, the US Justice Department is planning to file the federal government’s antitrust case against Google as soon as this month. Today’s report notably reveals a rushed approach that’s criticized for being political.

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antitrust Stories June 5, 2020

For the past several months, both the Department of Justice and state attorneys general have been readying antitrust investigations into Google. A new report today says that the US states are looking to break up Google’s ad division.

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antitrust Stories May 15, 2020

Justice Department, state investigations into Google ‘likely’ becoming antitrust lawsuits

Last September, federal and state governments announced an antitrust investigation into Google. A new report today says that the US Department of Justice and state attorneys general are likely to proceed with a lawsuit in the coming months.

antitrust Stories September 9, 2019

Alphabet on Friday disclosed that the Department of Justice asked for information and documents related to past antitrust investigations ahead of a possible new federal inquiry. As rumored last week, state attorneys general today announced their own look into Google.

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antitrust Stories September 6, 2019

In July, the US Justice Department announced a broad review of Big Tech and whether companies are limiting competition. Alphabet today revealed that it received a “a civil investigative demand from the DOJ” related to antitrust.

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antitrust Stories September 3, 2019

Report: State attorneys general announcing Google antitrust investigation next week

In recent years, Silicon Valley and Big Tech has been under increasing antitrust scrutiny. An investigation by state attorneys general into Google’s market power could be announced as soon as next week.

antitrust Stories July 30, 2019

Big Tech is due for meaningful regulation in the United States from both sides of the political aisle. On the Democratic one, several presidential candidates — most notably Elizabeth Warren — have laid out plans on how they would break up companies. Interviews with Googlers reveal that some support regulatory action.

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antitrust Stories March 8, 2019

The criticism of Big Tech has been a long-time coming, and today it emerged as a likely talking and policy point during the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren and current Senator has just proposed to break up Google, alongside Amazon and Facebook.

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antitrust Stories June 7, 2018

Google could face a massive fine of up to $11B when a ruling is reached on a long-running European antitrust investigation into Android – with potentially even worse news for the company.

A decision is reportedly expected to be made sometime in July …

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antitrust Stories July 5, 2017

The $2.7 billion fine Europe levied against Google last week over its Shopping product was quite significant. However, that is the least of Google’s troubles as they face another record fine over perceived antitrust aspects of Android. The latest move sees the EU setting up another panel of experts to provide a second opinion on the ongoing case.

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antitrust Stories June 28, 2016

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The European Union has already filed two sets of antitrust charges against Google, the first accusing it of manipulating search results to favor its own products, the second alleging that Google forces Android device manufacturers to install its own apps and set Google search as the default.

Last summer, it was reported that the company may face a third antitrust case in Europe, this time for abusing its dominant position in advertising, and the WSJ reports that the EU is currently preparing to files these charges, possibly next month …

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antitrust Stories April 20, 2016

android-antitrust

As previously rumored, in a press release published today, the EU has filed yet another antitrust movement against Google. This time it centers on Android, the company’s wildly successful mobile operating system, which the EU thinks is in breach of the continent’s antitrust rules. In short, the European Commission thinks Google is using Android to deliberately restrict other mobile operating systems, browsers and search engines.

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antitrust Stories April 18, 2016

European Commission could finalize Android anti-trust charges against Google this week

The Financial Times reports that tight deadlines given to four lawyers suggest that the European Commission’s Android anti-trust case against Google could see formal charges finalized this week, possibly as early as Wednesday.

antitrust Stories February 12, 2016

Google wins UK court case against antitrust accusers, Streetmap

Google has won a UK court case filed against it by a European mapping company named Streetmap.EU, which claimed the search giant had been skewing results in its own favor. Streetmap will appeal the decision, according to the Wall Street Journal.

antitrust Stories September 25, 2015

android

Google must wonder whether it will ever be free from antitrust investigations. Following antitrust charges against its search business (cleared in the USA, upheld in Europe), the EU filed a second complaint that Google had abused its dominant position in the mobile field to favor its own Android apps. The allegation is that Google forced smartphone companies to favor Google apps over rival ones in return for permission to use Android. Bloomberg reports that the U.S. appears to be opening a similar investigation in the USA.

The Federal Trade Commission reached an agreement with the Justice Department to spearhead an investigation of Google’s Android business, [two sources] said. FTC officials have met with technology company representatives who say Google gives priority to its own services on the Android platform … 

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antitrust Stories September 1, 2015

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It seems Google’s legal woes in Europe will never end. The European Commission has long been running an investigation into whether Google was guilty of anti-competitive behaviour in Europe, which finally resulted in a filing of charges in April and a warning of large fines in June. It may be next year – some six years after the investigation began – before the final ruling.

A second anti-trust investigation into Android followed, and a third one not long afterwards, this time into its web advertising business. As if all that weren’t enough, the NY Times reports that a US law firm and European public affairs company have created a joint venture to help companies file civil claims against Google in the event that the EC finds it guilty of the first set of charges …  expand full story

antitrust Stories July 22, 2015

google-ads

Just as one European antitrust case against Google reached its conclusion, with a second one underway, it may be facing a third, reports the Financial Times.

The first antitrust case found that Google abused its dominant position in search to promote its own products over that of competitors. with the company told to expect large fines. A second one is underway, to determine whether Google forced smartphone manufacturers to favor its own apps over competitor ones in return for permission to use Android.

The FT now reports that a number of companies selling online advertising have asked the European Commission to consider a third case, to investigate Google’s dominance of the web advertising business …  expand full story

antitrust Stories July 2, 2015

yahoo-serps-bing

Yahoo is currently including Google ads in some of its search results in what the company described to the NY Times as a “small test.” The ads were first spotted by SEO Book.

Yahoo confirmed on Wednesday that it has begun testing the use of Google search ads for a small portion of its desktop and mobile web search results. “As we work to create the absolute best experiences for Yahoo users, from time to time, we run small tests with a variety of partners including search providers,” the company said.

Google offered Yahoo an ad partnership all the way back in 2008, but pulled out after objections from the Department of Justice on antitrust grounds …  expand full story

antitrust Stories June 29, 2015

Harvard/Columbia study for Yelp may influence level of European antitrust fines for Google

A study commissioned by Yelp and carried out by two prominent U.S. academics has quantified the impact of Google giving prominence to its own services over organic results, reports the WSJ.

The study’s authors— Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Tim Wu of Columbia Law School—found that users were 45% more likely to click on results that were ranked purely by relevance, rather than as Google ranks them now, with its own services displayed prominently.

The study of 2,500 Internet users said that the results provided empirical evidence that Google’s promotion of its own services resulted in lower-quality search results for consumers. Google, in contrast, had argued that its own specialist services can provide consumers with more precise answers to their queries.

Yelp was one of a number of companies that filed European antitrust complaints against Google five years ago, leading to a European Commission investigation that has been running ever since – with various attempts by Google to bring proceedings to and end. Some of these were rejected while others were accepted, but the EC finally decided in April to file charges against Google, before being told to expect large fines.

The results of this study may influence the level of these fines.

Photo: AP

antitrust Stories June 5, 2015

google

Google has been facing legal heat in Europe for several users over how it handles and collects user data as well as its monopoly-like actions, but today the company finally admitted that it has made some mistakes. Google’s European chief executive Matt Brittin stated today to Politico that Google has failed to make its intentions well-known in Europe.

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antitrust Stories April 15, 2015

google

As expected, the EU has formally accused Google of abusing its dominant position in search to favor links to its own products over those offered by competitors. The complaint takes the form of a Statement of Objections: a formal method of announcing that it believes Google has acted illegally and that a full investigation is underway.

The Commission’s preliminary view is that such conduct infringes EU antitrust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers. EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that “Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary. However, if the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe.”

Google has not wasted any time in attempting to convince the Commission otherwise, arguing in a blog post that the evidence shows that Google has not harmed traffic to competitor websites …  expand full story

antitrust Stories March 31, 2015

Chair of Senate antitrust panel looking into conversations between Google and FTC

Senator Mike Lee, who chairs the Senate’s antitrust panel, will conduct a “preliminary inquiry” into whether conversations Google had with FTC investigators influenced the commission’s decision to clear the company of anti-competitive behavior, reports the WSJ.

The senator could later expand his inquiry to include conversations people in the White House had with the FTC and Google, people in his office said.

The FTC last week denied that its decision had been “a close call” following leaked documents suggesting that it had been. The documents also provided some fascinating insights into Google’s business model.

Google declined to comment on this latest development, but has previously said that its meetings in the White House were not related to the FTC investigation.

antitrust Stories March 26, 2015

Federal-Trade-Commission

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a statement denying the WSJ‘s suggestion that the decision to clear Google of anti-competitive behavior was “a close call.”

The WSJ yesterday obtained part of one of the investigative reports, which included a sentence reading “Although it is a close call, we do not recommend that the Commission issue a complaint against Google for this conduct.”

As we stated when the investigation was closed, the Commission concluded that Google’s search practices were not, “on balance, demonstrably anticompetitive.”

Contrary to recent press reports, the Commission’s decision on the search allegations was in accord with the recommendations of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, Bureau of Economics, and Office of General Counsel.

The FTC describes the WSJ story as “misleading” …  expand full story

antitrust Stories November 27, 2014

google-europe

A European Parliament motion calling for the breakup of Google, separating out the search business from the company’s other activities, has been overwhelmingly approved, reports the WSJ.

In a vote in Strasbourg, 384 legislators voted in favor of the controversial initiative, with 174 against and 56 abstentions […]

“Clear adoption by the EP of Digital Single Market motion, including unbundling for search engine if needed,” tweeted Ramon Tremosa I Balcells, a lawmaker from Spain who backed the proposal.

The vote comes just a day after a separate European call for the controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling to be extended to google.com as well as the European versions of its sites …  expand full story

antitrust Stories November 21, 2014

google

Google’s ongoing battle with the European Union may have just taken a nasty turn. A new draft motion from the European Parliament is looking to separate the outfit’s search business from the rest of its operations. This comes after years of accusations against the company claiming that it exercises adverse practices, showcasing its own products while burying its competition.

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antitrust Stories September 18, 2014

Google-offices-1

News Corp. recently issued a letter to the European Union blasting Google’s search and advertising practices. The correspondence also requested that the EU enforce stricter policies against the software company. News Corp. chief executive Robert Thomson wrote that Google was “willing to exploit its dominant market position to stifle competition.”

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antitrust Stories September 8, 2014

eric-schmidt-portr_2546680b

Google has been battling allegations of burying rival companies in its web search results while promoting its own services, such as Maps and YouTube. The search giant was close to avoiding costly fines from the European Commission, but following negative feedback from its competitors, Google will now have to take additional measures to settle this multi-year investigation.

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antitrust Stories July 9, 2014

Yelp

TechCrunch has obtained leaked documents from within Yelp that accuse Google of manipulating search results to promote Google+ content over Yelp content. The report alleges that Google is boosting its own products on its search engine in the United States, but not in Europe where it is being slammed with antitrust complaints from European Union regulators. expand full story

antitrust Stories May 1, 2014

Android-logo-007

Consumer rights group Hagens Berman has filed a new class-action lawsuit against Google alleging that the company’s rise to dominance in the search market was only driven by its inclusion as the default search option in Android, and that Google’s insistence that corporate Android licensees include the company’s first party software has artificially driven up the price of mobile phones.

To better explain exactly what the company is actually claiming, let’s break down a few quotes from the official press release on the lawsuit.

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antitrust Stories February 5, 2014

Photo: npr.org

Photo: npr.org

After more than three years of investigations and negotiations, Google and the European Union anti-trust authorities have finally settled the case in which the company was accused of abusing its dominant position in search.

The tl;dr version of the dispute was that Google search results were giving undue prominence to its own services – such as Google News and Google Shopping – and freezing out rivals. Google was eventually given a deadline of 31st January last year to submit proposals on how it would resolve the problem …  expand full story

antitrust Stories October 1, 2013

plenary

The European Union’s long-running anti-trust case against Google, in which the search company was accused of using its dominant position in search to stifle competition, looks set to finally be resolved – though we may have to wait until Spring to learn the details.

Reuters reports that Google has made new proposals, which the EU suggests is likely to lead to a settlement.

Joaquin Almunia told lawmakers in the European Parliament he believed the new offer made it easier to see Google’s rivals when making an internet search.

“We have reached a key moment in this case,” Almunia said.

“Now with the significant improvements on the table I think we have the possibility to work again.

“If our investigation of this improved proposal is satisfactory then we will continue the commitments route and end up with a formal decision next spring,” he said, adding: “I think that the settlement route remains the best choice” …  expand full story

antitrust Stories September 20, 2013

Microsoft is David battling Google’s Goliath Monopoly, says outgoing CEO Ballmer

In what must surely win some kind of award for irony, Steve ‘dead man walking’ Ballmer repeated his call for Google to face greater scrutiny from competition authorities, describing the search giant as a “monopoly.”

Speaking at an analysts briefing yesterday (via The Verge), the outgoing Microsoft CEO responded to questions about Google’s plans to generate money from online services saying:

Google does it. They have this incredible, amazing, dare I say monopoly that we are the only person left on the planet trying to compete with. We’re the only guys in the world trying.”

Microsoft of course faced numerous anti-trust suits back in the heady days of its dominance of the PC industry, and always dismissed them with the view that consumers make their own choices.

Microsoft’s search service Bing has 17.9 percent of the US search market, a distant second to Google at 67 percent. The disparity is often greater internationally though Google does have competition from Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China.

antitrust Stories September 9, 2013

Google offering new concessions in EU antitrust case – but neither side saying what they are

The on-going saga of the EU’s anti-trust case against Google, accusing it of using its dominant position in search to block competition, continues with Google making fresh proposals to the Competition Commission.

Google’s initial response was to offer to:

  • clearly separate sponsored links from organic search results, and to link to rival search services
  • allow publishers to choose what content is included in Google’s various search results
  • allow website owners to sell advertising from competitor companies alongside Google ads
  • allow advertisers to manage search advertising campaigns across competing platforms …

After seeking feedback on the proposals from other interested parties (read: Microsoft and others who feel they are unfairly treated), the EU rejected them as not going far enough.

Reuters reports that Google has now offered further concessions, but neither Google nor the EU has yet revealed what these are.

antitrust Stories April 25, 2013

32-b5d6bbdc04Earlier this month we heard that Google had handed in a formal offer of concessions to the  European Union Competition Commissioner in the ongoing antirust investigation into whether some of Google’s practices with its search and ad businesses create unfair competition and abuse the company’s dominance. At the time we didn’t get to see what the settlement proposal actually included, but today the commission issued a press release asking for feedback on the proposed commitments and detailing some of the proposals Google submitted:

Google has made proposals to try to address the Commission’s four competition concerns. Interested parties can now submit their comments within one month. The Commission will take them into account in its analysis of Google’s commitment proposals. If the Commission concludes that they address its four competition concerns, it may decide to make them legally binding on Google.

Among the most interesting commitments submitted by Google: For 5 years Google has agreed to “label promoted links to its own specialised search services”, as well as allow websites the ability to opt out from having specific pieces of content indexed by Google. Google would also no longer require publishers to utilize online search advertisements through sourced only through it.

A breakdown of Google’s proposals is below and the full version of its commitments can be found on the DG Competition’s website hereexpand full story

antitrust Stories April 11, 2013

Google hands in formal offer of concessions to EU Commission in ongoing antitrust investigation

Back in early February, European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia confirmed Google had handed in a proposal settlement in the ongoing antirust investigation into whether some of Google’s practices with its search and ad businesses create unfair competition and abuse the company’s dominance. Today Reuters reports that Google has not submitted an official offer of concessions to the Commission:

“In the last few weeks, the Commission completed its preliminary assessment formally setting out its concerns. On this basis, Google then made a formal submission of commitments to the Commission,” said Antoine Colombani, the Commission’s spokesman on competition policy.

“We are now preparing the launch of a market test to seek feedback from market players, including complainants, on these commitment proposals,” he said.

One thing conveniently left out of the report: at this point we do not know what the commitments Google has made and how they might reflect the user experience for customers.

antitrust Stories March 13, 2012

According to a report from Bloomberg (via AllThingsD), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission subpoenaed Apple as part of its antitrust investigation of Google. There are not many details currently, but the report claimed the FTC is interested in Apple’s agreement with the company to use Google as its primary default search engine on iOS devices.

The agency’s request for documents includes the agreements that made Google the preferred search engine on Apple’s mobile devices, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly and declined to be identified. Google rivals such as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have criticized these agreements as anticompetitive.

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antitrust Stories February 22, 2012

Microsoft requested European Union antitrust regulators to probe Motorola Mobility on claims that the United States phone manufacturer is blocking sales of Windows and Xbox products.

“Earlier today, Microsoft filed a formal competition law complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Motorola Mobility and Google,” wrote Microsoft’s Vice President and Deputy General Counsel David Heiner in a blog post this morning. “We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products.”

Microsoft’s post, “Google: Please Don’t Kill Video on the Web,” lambasted Motorola Mobility for not making industry standard patents available on reasonable and fair terms, and for using those patents to block competitors from shipping products.

The industry apparently agreed many years ago to define common technical standards for everyone to use and build compatible Wi-Fi and video products. However, Heiner contended, Motorola is backtracking on its word and attempting to use standard patents for “killing video on the Web.”

More information is available below.

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antitrust Stories December 5, 2011

Google chairman Eric Schmidt is set to face the European competition commission this week to address potential antirust issues concerning their dominant position in the search business, according to a report from The Guardian. The meeting will be held by the commission’s antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia, following initial talks held in January stemming from complaints by several search companies including Microsoft’s own Ciao.

Almunia is expected to present Google with a 400-page “statement of objections” that documents the commission’s research regarding “allegations that Google Inc has abused a dominant position in online search, in violation of European Union rules”.

The antitrust investigation started as far back as November 30, 2010, after claims from several search related companies including 1PlusV, Euro-Cities, and German organizations representing publishers filed complaints. The complaints themselves range from Google displaying there own services in search results to unfairly using content from publishers.

If Google is found guilty of abusing its dominant position in the market they could face fines up to 10% of the company’s annual turnover in Europe, or be forced to make changes to the way it runs its search business in the region. While some reported that during initial negotiations in January Almunia told Schmidt he would have a chance to offer up a solution, Almunia had this to say late last week about the upcoming meeting: expand full story

antitrust Stories October 24, 2011

According to a report from WSJ, Google is currently in talks with private-equity firms regarding potentially providing assistance in the purchase of Yahoo Inc.

The report mentions the possibility Google is simply trying to bid up the purchase price to make it a less attractive deal for other potential buyers including Microsoft. Yahoo is currently in talks with Microsoft and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners as well as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board regarding a possible deal. Although, there are reasons Google might find owning a piece of Yahoo’s 700 million plus unique monthly visitors beneficial.

The most obvious is advertising. According to the report, “Google wants to help sell the ad space across Yahoo sites as Yahoo has struggled to get good prices for it”. WSJ mentions the ability to push Google+ on the Yahoo community, but more importantly, a deal would provide Google with access to ads displayed in content from ABC News and other current premium content partners of Yahoo. According to the source, Google is interested in “having deeper business relationships with such publishers”.

Citing a “person familiar with the matter”, WSJ’s sources claim that Google has talked with two undisclosed private-equity firms, and while no deal has been struck, many are already discussing potential antitrust investigations. Forbes just published a story focusing on the antitrust issues of a potential Yahoo purchase, outlining the obvious predicament: expand full story

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