EU Stories February 7

Google Shopping’s ‘monopoly-like’ position leads to a new $2.4 billion lawsuit in the EU

Google has been facing a lot of scrutiny over the past few years over its dominant positions in the market, and this week the company is facing yet another lawsuit. In the EU, a competitor to Google Shopping has issued a multi-billion dollar lawsuit over Search favoring Google Shopping over competitors.

EU Stories September 23, 2021

The European Commission today announced a proposal that would put in place requirements for smartphone manufacturers. Among the requirements is that phones start using USB-C in the EU, regardless of who makes the device, and also that manufacturers stop including a charger with the device.

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EU Stories March 20, 2019

Google has been fined $1.69 billion after EU regulators claimed that the tech company abused its own search system to essentially force third-party sites to use the AdSense network over other rival online ad serving companies.

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EU 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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EU Stories May 24, 2016

GOOGLE

Update: The financial prosecutor’s office has confirmed that the raid took place, and is part of an investigation in to tax evasion and money laundering. As reported by Reuters:

The investigation, which started in June last year, aims to verify whether Google Ireland Ltd (GOOGL.O) has failed in its fiscal obligations in France, the prosecutor’s office said in statement.

According to several breaking news reports, Google’s headquarters in Paris are being raided this morning by French investigators as part of a probe into the US company’s tax payments. Both Le Parisien and Reuters were informed by sources that a search is underway at the HQ in Paris’s 9th district.

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EU Stories May 16, 2016

Google EU We had heard that the EU was planning to levy a substantial fine on Google for its alleged favoring of its own services in search over those belonging to competitors last year already, and the Telegraph is reporting that the European Commission is now estimating a hefty €3 billion ($3.4b) tag… expand full story

EU 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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EU 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.

EU Stories February 11, 2016

Google to comply more strictly with EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ act

Following a series of pressures by European regulation and privacy authorities, Google will soon start removing unwanted results from all of its domains. Despite having complied with the EU’s rules regarding the so-called ‘right to be forgotten‘ act, the search giant has so far only removed the results within the specific country’s domain.

EU Stories September 25, 2015

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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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EU 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

EU Stories June 18, 2015

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Google controls most of the search engine market in Europe, and as a result receives most ‘right to be forgotten’ requests, those things where individuals can request the de-listing of links to sensitive information about themselves that are deemed out-dated or irrelevant. But more than half of requests are denied, and of those that are appealed, most of those are too denied – which the European Union says is just fine.

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EU Stories June 5, 2015

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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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EU Stories April 1, 2015

File photo shows people walking by a YouTube sign at the new Google office in Toronto

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the European Commission is preparing to file antitrust charges against Google. The charges come after a five-year long investigation that’s stalled three times and caused strong political divides in Europe.

[protected-iframe id=”99fbe893c055defe975d4396e88efa97-22427743-13611283″ info=”http://video-api.wsj.com/api-video/player/iframe.html?guid=AA4ABC8A-5FDF-4CC0-9F6E-DA536681A83B” width=”700″ height=”400″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”]

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EU Stories November 27, 2014

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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

EU Stories November 26, 2014

 

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A European Union panel is trying to get Google to expand the recently passed “right to forgotten” law to the company’s international search engine Google.com. The group is arguing that it’s too easy for people using local versions of Google’s search URL to bypass de-listed links by visiting Mountain View’s primary web search URL which is currently not subject to the controversial ordinance.

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EU Stories November 21, 2014

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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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EU Stories September 26, 2014

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Google has come under fire from European Union officials on a number of fronts already. It’s been accused of unfair search results, been criticized for the way it has implemented the controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling and asked to stop describing apps which offer in-app purchases as ‘free.’

Reuters now reports that the EU believes Google is breaking the law in combining user data across unrelated services like Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps without offering users an opt-out, and the way in which it has consolidated 60 separate privacy policies into one …  expand full story

EU Stories September 18, 2014

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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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EU Stories September 8, 2014

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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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EU Stories July 17, 2014

Europe Antitrust Google

European Union privacy regulators have reached out to Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to discuss the rules of the recent court-ordered “right to be forgotten” rule. EU officials told The Wall Street Journal that they are trying to set up a meeting with the tech juggernauts for next Thursday in Brussels, however it remains unknown if the companies have accepted the invitation.

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EU Stories July 3, 2014

Google sets up data removal webform

Well-known figures taking advantage of Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling, in which Google and other search engines are required to remove links to sensitive information deemed ‘out-dated or irrelevant’, are not quite getting the results they hoped for. Google is choosing to notify the media when links to stories are removed, and the British media is responding by running stories on the censorship – putting the subjects of the removed links back in the news once more …  expand full story

EU Stories June 9, 2014

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A recent ruling by the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) determined that people had “the right to be forgotten” and mandated that Google remove outdated, unflattering information about them from search queries if requested by an individual. In response to the court’s ruling Mountain View created an online form for people to formally file requests to have old links removed from web searches.

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EU Stories May 29, 2014

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Following a ruling by a European court that users have the “right to be forgotten” online, Google has launched a new web page that allows some users seeking a bit of privacy to have certain links removed from the company’s search results. The Mountain View search giant says it has already gotten thousands of takedown requests—and that’s before the form was even public (via Re/code).

The system isn’t automated, and Google says it will need to consider each request on a case-by-case basis to decide whether a certain link should be removed or left intact in the interest of public information. If that sounds a bit inefficient, that might be because it is. An introductory statement on the page calls it “an initial effort” which will undoubtedly be improved on over time:

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EU Stories May 15, 2014

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After a recent ruling by the European Union Court of Justice, Google users have been flooding the company with requests to have unflattering links removed from its search engine. People ranging from politicians to sex offenders have already reached out to Google asking the software giant to purge their tainted web history.

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EU 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

EU Stories June 14, 2013

Google

According to a new report out of the Financial Times, Google is being investigated by European officials due to allegations that it has anti-competitive deals set up with select smartphone manufacturers. This isn’t the first time Google has run into trouble with the EU, as the company has been investigated for antitrust issues in the past.

Microsoft and Nokia made these allegations and claim that Google is forcing Android manufacturers to delay the launch of devices running their two operating systems. The European Union is also looking into claims that Google requires manufacturers to preload its services on their devices. expand full story

EU 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

EU Stories April 11, 2013

Google-Maps-Search-results-StreetmapsAccording to Bloomberg, U.K. based internet map provider Streetmap is suing Google over allegedly favoring its own maps to those of competitors. Streepmap is claiming that it’s harder to find their maps (and other competitors) in a Google search than it is to find Google Maps. Streetmaps is calling the issue a “cynical manipulation” by Google and is calling for a change in the way Google displays map related search results:

“We have had to take this action in an effort to protect our business and attract attention to those that, like us, have started their own technology businesses, only to find them damaged by Google’s cynical manipulation of search results,” Kate Sutton, commercial director of Streetmap, said in the statement.

The lawsuit mirrors complaints at the heart of the EU’s current investigation into whether or not Google’s abuses its search dominance to favor its own services over competitors within search results and elsewhere. Earlier today we reported that Google had handed in a formal offer of concessions to the European Commission related to the investigation, but there is no word yet on exactly Google’s settlement offer includes… expand full story

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.

EU 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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EU Stories January 18, 2012

European regulators are moving early on Google antitrust probe, telling Reuters that a decision on a formal complaint against Google for misuse of its market position will be reached in late March, much sooner than expected. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told the news gathering organization late on Tuesday:

I will receive comments from the case team towards the end of the first quarter. I do not expect anything sooner. Let us see.

Since November of last year, 10 complainants such as Microsoft, VfT, Foundem, Deal du Jour, 1plusV and the Spanish Association of Daily Newspaper Publishers have filed complaints with the Commission, accusing the search giant of misusing its dominance in search. Google’s problem with EU courts could result in a multi-billion dollar fine, as had been the case with EU antitrust probes into Microsoft and Intel in the past. expand full story

EU Stories August 18, 2011

It’s no secret patent-related legal disputes have become the subject of most media coverage lately…Whether it’s Apple halting sales of Samsung’s tablets, HTC going after Apple, or Google snatching up Motorola to beef up their patent portfolio, it’s clear the company with the most patents will have an advantage over others in the legal proceedings that we’re bound to continue encountering down the road. This is why we’re intrigued by the graphic above (via GigaOM) from mobile analyst Chetan Sharma charting the number of issued patents (in the US and Europe) between 1993 and 2011.

While these estimates of mobile communications related patents don’t take the quality of patents into account (which is obviously a huge factor in determining their long-term value), you can see from the breakdown below that Nokia and Samsung top the list, with the other expected players including IBM, Microsoft, Sony, Motorola, and Intel following.

Noticeably far down the list is Apple, the one company who seems to have had more success than others fighting patent-related issues recently. Again, these numbers in no way represent the quality of patents and the ability for companies to protect their IPs in the courtroom… which is also a good indication that perhaps we should be looking more closely at the quality of patents rather than the sheer number. expand full story

EU Stories August 9, 2011

Update: Samsung has issued the following statement (via TNW) addressing the court’s decision to grant Apple the preliminary injunction:

Samsung is disappointed with the court’s decision and we intend to act immediately to defend our intellectual property rights through the ongoing legal proceedings in Germany and will continue to actively defend these rights throughout the world.

The request for injunction was filed with no notice to Samsung, and the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung.

We will take all necessary measures to ensure Samsung’s innovative mobile communications devices are available to customers in Europe and around the world.

This decision by the court in Germany in no way influences other legal proceedings filed with the courts in Europe and elsewhere.

Reports are coming in that Apple has been granted a preliminary injunction for the entire European Union (excluding Netherlands) that will halt distribution of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1. This comes on the heels of a postponed launch of the device in Australia due to a lawsuit with Apple. If you’ve been in the market for an Android-based tablet, you might have to grab one of those new Vizio tablets or wait for the rumored Kal-El Honeycomb powered “Motorola Kore”.

The decision by the Regional Court of Dusseldorf in Germany to block sales of the device comes after a judge sided with Apple on claims that Galaxy Tab copied key design components related to the iPad 2. While Samsung can appeal the court’s decision sometime in the next month, the Telegraph’s Shane Richmond is quick to point out it would be heard by the same judge. Apple is also said to have a separate lawsuit filed in the Netherlands as well.

Samsung had this to say in a recent statement about their legal disputes with Apple:

“Samsung believes that there is no legal basis for this assertion. We will continue to serve our customers and distributors and the sale of Samsung products will be continued.”

And Apple has made their stance on the situation clear… expand full story

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