Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

No surprises

with 2 comments

Three complaints have been logdged before the EU Commission against Google. The complaints have been introduced by British price comparison website Foundem, French legal search engine, and –  guess who, a Microsoft subsidiary. Frankly speaking, this is everything but surprising.

First, given the mounting degree of antitrust exposure faced by Google in Europe, and elsewhere in the world (think of the GBS in the US), it was just a matter of time for DG COMP to at least scrutinize Google’s conduct. Now, the many press announcements made in this respect shall be toned down a little. If I understand correctly, the Commission has not, as reported by several journalists, “opened a probe”, but simply announced that it will review the complaints. A Commission official is quoted to have said: “The Commission can confirm that it has received three complaints against Google which it is examining. The Commission has not opened a formal investigation for the time being,

Second, on legal grounds, the fact that Google’s conduct is challenged for a violation of abuse of dominance rules is also unsurprising. It is reported that Google would “unfairly” rank competing websites on its search engine. Whilst I have no particular information on this, I suspect the complaints to describe Google as an operator holding an essential search facility (a disputable argument actually). In turn, the systematic down-ranking of competitors could arguably involve, such as in the case of a physical infrastructure, something akin to a constructive refusal to supply, which squeezes rivals from the market. I would really love to see how the complaints are structured.  There might also be issues of unlawful discrimination against competing websites (Article 102 c)).

The good news from Google: it can draw upon, and recycle, a lot of the Microsoft-related antitrust literature on dynamic efficiencies, software integration, refusals to deal, etc. Quite paradoxically, Google and Microsoft may well be foes on the commercial front, but as far as legal argumentation is concerned, they have a lot to share.

(Image possibly subject to copyrights: source here)

Written by Nicolas Petit

24 February 2010 at 12:55 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] opiniones sobre este tema pueden encontrarse en blogs separados por el Océano Atlántico: entrada de N. Petit en “Chillin’ Competition” y entrada de Josh Wright en “Truth on the […]

  2. The complaints to which Nicolas is referring are somehow a follow-up to other ongoing cases in the US which essentally deal with the same issues.

    In absence of the complaints lodged before the European Commission, it can be useful to take a look at the claims made against Google in the US:

    TradeComet’s complaint:

    Click to access TradeComet_v_Google.pdf

    myTrigger’s counterclaimt:

    Click to access 2010-02-02-a-myTriggers-Answer-and-Counterclaim.pdf

    For a very useful blog post on these two complaints see here:

    Alfonso Lamadrid

    2 March 2010 at 8:57 pm

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