A five-year EU investigation into Google is about to come to a head over allegations of anti-competitive behaviours.
The European Commission has investigated anti-trust allegations made by Microsoft, TripAdvisor and other companies since 2010.
The companies were objecting to the fact that Google places reviews for its own products, as well as music and videos from YouTube, ahead of others’ links in relevant searches.
The lobbying group representing the complainants, Icomp, said, "At the core must be the fundamental principle that Google must not abuse its power in general online search to give preferential treatment to its own separate services.”
If found guilty of anti-competitive behaviours under Competition law, Google could be facing huge fines, potentially running to billions of Euros, and ordered to rethink its business model in Europe.
Competition Law prohibits agreements or practices that restrict free trade and competition between businesses. It also works to ban abusive behaviour by businesses dominating a market or anti-competitive practices that lead to an overly dominant position.
The law also supervises mergers and acquisitions of larger corporations to ensure that transactions don’t threaten the competitive process.
In the case of Google, it is alleged that the way they display search engine results means that potential customers are being shown products that Google have made before showing any competitor’s products. Those raising the complaint say that this is against competition law and the practice should be stopped.
The EU competition commissioner, Ms Margrethe Vestager, is yet to issue a statement of objections but is due to do so imminently. Her statement will be a letter setting out all the objections that the commission can base its final decision on which will provide Google an opportunity to respond prior to any action being taken.
If you believe that competition laws have been broken, or have been accused of breaking them yourself, you will need expert legal advice. The team of specialist business solicitors at Slater and Gordon are available on freephone 0800 916 9052 or contact us online and we will call you back.
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