Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and European antitrust regulators are said to be close to a settlement that will help the search company avoid a long legal battle. The two had reached a “good understanding” during discussions to address concerns over Google’s business practices, regulatory officials said.
“We have reached a good degree of understanding between Google and the Commission,” EU Antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. “Hopefully in the coming days or weeks we will have the first technical meeting” to resolve the matter, he added.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) had been given time until this month to act before the Commission decided to push ahead with a formal case. While the details of Google’s proposed solutions have not been disclosed, the company has tried to address concerns of the EU as well as U.S. antitrust regulators. It recently agreed, for instance, to apply the proposed changes to its search engine when it is used on mobile devices and PCs alike. Some of the issues are also related to Google’s Android operating system that runs on phones and tablets of several manufacturers, and competes against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).
The regulators’ biggest allegation is that Google’s search engine ranks services and websites belong to the company, such as Google+ and Google’s shopping site, ahead of those of rivals. A second worry was regarding Google copying content from competing websites to use the material on its own sites. It also, reportedly, places restrictions on software developers that prevented them from creating tools to transfer ad campaigns from Google’s system to those of competitors like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).
Michael Reynolds of the law firm Allen & Overy told Wall Street Journal that the Commission had looked through “an avalanche of complaints” from rivals and finally reduced the allegation list against Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to just a few specific concerns. “I’ve never before seen a case where the commission has shown so much willingness to settle,” said.
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