Europe to Pull Trigger on Google Antitrust Charges

Photo Credit: The Wall Street Journal

Photo Credit: The Wall Street Journal

Europe’s antitrust regulator plans to file formal charges against Google Inc. for violating antitrust laws, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday, stepping up a five-year investigation likely to become the biggest competition battle here since the European Union’s pursuit of Microsoft Corp. a decade ago.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager made the decision Tuesday in agreement with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, this person said. She is expected to inform her fellow EU commissioners at a meeting Wednesday, said three EU officials.

The European charges will focus on complaints that Google uses its dominant Internet search engine to favor its own services over those of rivals, people familiar with the situation said. Rivals say Google search results in areas like travel, shopping and maps increasingly favor Google’s own offerings, rather than links to similaronline services run by rivals.

Google told employees Tuesday it has a “very strong case” against the expected charges. In the past, Google has denied breaking antitrust laws and argues that providing more direct answers to online queries, including from its own services, benefits consumers.

The charges would be “very bad news” for Google, said Ioannis Lianos, a professor of global competition law at University College London. (Read more from “Europe to Pull Trigger on Google Antitrust Charges” HERE)

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