Google Inc. faces another antitrust complaint from a group of rivals as it seeks to settle the European Commission’s two-year probe into claims its search results discriminate against competitors.
ICOMP, a coalition including Microsoft Corp, said it submitted a new dossier to the European Commission on Jan. 30, alleging that the world’s largest search engine obtained its dominance through unfair agreements with other companies in the Internet and advertising industry.
“By creating an illegal network of exclusive relationships with these important partners, Google achieved its key objective: gaining scale for itself while preventing its rivals from doing the same,” ICOMP said in a statement on its website.
Google last week submitted an offer to regulators to settle the antitrust probe after Joaquin Almunia asked the Mountain View, California-based company to January to address allegations that the company promotes its own specialist search-services, copies rivals’ travel and restaurant reviews, and has agreements with websites and software developers that stifle competition in the advertising industry. He first told Google in May that he wanted to settle the case.
If regulators decide that the company’s concessions could allay antitrust concerns, they can send it to rivals and customers for comments. If this market test is successful, the EU can make the commitments legally binding. Such a settlement would avoid possible fines against Google.
Microsoft is among ICOMP members that already complained to the EU over Google’s behavior. The Brussels-based commission confirmed today it received the ICOMP complaint last week.
“We continue to work co-operatively with the commission,” said Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels, on the new complaint.
ICOMP members Foundem, Hot-Map.com and Streetmap.co.uk previously asked regulators to investigate whether Google’s search results unfairly shut out rival products.