Thursday, February 6, 2014

Google Settles Its European Antitrust Case

CLAIRE CAIN MILLER and MARK SCOTT says Google has agreed to a settlement with European competition regulators that leaves the company with a few bruises, yet victorious over all — and would end half a decade of wrangles with antitrust authorities across the globe.

Under the settlement, which awaits formal approval by the European Commission, Google agreed to the harshest penalties it has yet received in an antitrust inquiry anywhere. But it escaped a fine and a finding of wrongdoing. And it protected its crown jewel — its secret algorithm — from oversight by regulators, and avoided a court battle or potential consequences like a $5 billion fine or a ruling to make major changes to its company structure or its products.

The changes Google agreed to did little to satisfy the competitors whose formal complaints prompted the inquiry by European antitrust regulators. The investigation focused on whether Google abused its dominant position in the European search market, where it has about 90 percent market share, versus two-thirds in the United States.

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