Euro watchdog to bite Google's rump

It looks like Europe’s competition watchdog is considering formal proceedings against Google over antitrust complaints.

There had been some hope that the search engine might come to some agreement with the European Union Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, before it got to court, but he has told Network World that has not happened yet.

The case is about the way Google promotes its own services in search results.

Talks will continue even as the sides prepare for a huge court case which could result in Google facing a fine which amounts to 10 percent of its profits.

Google offered concessions to the European Commission in July, but the Commission is still deciding if these will work. It seems that the Commission wants to talk to the businesses who complained.

Complaints were first lodged by French search engine and the UK Foundem in 2010 and were followed by 14 others.

The Commission had a full investigation to determine whether Google unfairly penalises rivals in November last year.

Alumnia said he has ordered Commission staff “to engage into technical discussions with Google in order to assess in-depth the solutions presented”. But he warned that if these are found lacking, he would be “obliged to continue with our formal proceedings”.

Other allegations include the fact that Google may have copied travel and restaurant reviews from competing sites without their permission. It also has contractual restrictions that prevent advertisers from moving their online campaigns to rival search engines.

It appears that the Commission is trying to press the case rather than letting it get bogged down by long meetings with Google over concessions.

By having a court case looming in the background, it does focus Google’s attention and might force more concessions from the search engine outfit.