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Rivals get longer to comment on Google EU antitrust offer: source

Surfboards lean against a wall at the Google office in Santa Monica, California, October 11, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Surfboards lean against a wall at the Google office in Santa Monica, California, October 11, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators have given some of Google's rivals more time to study its proposals to settle anti-competitive complaints, which could provide more leverage to pry further concessions from the Internet search giant.

The European Commission last month told interested parties they had until May 26 to say if they are satisfied with the offer by the world's most popular search engine to mark out its services from rival products in Internet search results.

The EU antitrust authority has given some rivals until June 27 to complete their technical analysis of Google's proposals, said one person familiar with the matter.

The regulator is able to grant extensions if there are strong grounds for doing so. A Commission competition spokesman, Antoine Colombani, declined to comment on the Google case.

Several Google competitors and complainants about the company's practices have been critical of the proposed settlement, which includes providing links to at least three competing search engines, and allowing rivals to stop Google from using specific information.

According to British price comparison site Foundem, Google's offer would only reinforce its dominance. Google has more than 80 percent share of the market in Europe, according to research firm comScore.

Other critics said the proposal would force rivals to compete among themselves, raising their costs and increasing merchants' dependency on Google.

If Google clinches a deal with the Commission, it would avoid a finding of infringement of competition rules and a possible fine that could be as much as $5 billion or 10 percent of its global revenue.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Luke Baker and Mark Potter)

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