Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Google News

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Things are developing on the Google front, and for some reason the timing of the most significant developments is practically coincidental:

The complainants in the EU investigation on Google are as active as we had forecasted. A supplementary complaint has just been lodged before the European Commission by the French company 1plusV, which controls, one of the original complainants. More on the content of the complaint here.

Almost in parallel, the Texas Attorney General disclosed on Tuesday some details on the information that it requested from Google a year ago concerning the operation of its search algorithm (see here ).

The new complaint and those revelations come at at moment of growing  rumors on the likelihood of an early settlement. Apparently there have been a number of preliminary talks (including a meeting between Eric Schmidt and Commissioner Almunia), although the Commission has made clear that the investigation is ongoing. An offer of commitments on the part of Google seems to be the most sensible solution from Google´s standpoint it it wants to avoid entering into a never-ending legal battle with the Commission. In fact, Google´s CEO has been reported to be thinking along these lines (see here).  As we´ve said before, I very much doubt that complainants and other of Google´s competitors would be satisfied; I bet that the case will be taken to Luxembourg no matter what, but given the Commission´s litigation record in art. 102 cases (and ultimately the Alrosa litigation) there´s no doubt Google would rather have the institution on its side.

Unrelated to the EU investigation, but also of interest is the fact that the American Antitrust Institute  has published a white paper arguing that the DOJ should seriously consider challenging Google´s acquisition of ITA Software. It strikes me that the AAI, whose members should probably have very divergent views, has taken such a defined institutional position on this particular deal, but the paper makes an interesting read anyhow. 

PS. Once again, all the info above has been found through Google News.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

23 February 2011 at 3:50 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Great and useful update as usual, Alfonso.
    Let’s assume that the AAI is independent as virtually all think tanks claim to be in DC. Why not to accept that its stance against Google’s acquisition ITA Software fits with its declared mission of “assur(ing) that competition works in the interests of consumers”?
    That’s what I like to think at least. Yep, no European Antitrust Institute yet, beside DG COMP.

    Alberto Alemanno

    23 February 2011 at 4:10 pm

  2. Thanks Alberto!

    I fully agree with you. In fact, I think I formulated it wrongly when I mentioned their independence, and so I re-wrote it afterwards. Being independent should not be at odds with expressing a position in an issue of common interest.

    What I find surprising is that given the complexities and implications (including commercial implications) of the issue they have produced a document on the name of the AAI as a whole. So, yep, you´re right.

    As to the last point, Nico would reply that we have no AAI but that we do have a GCLC 🙂

    Alfonso Lamadrid

    23 February 2011 at 4:34 pm

  3. Excellent to hear from you and finally meet you – although electronically!
    We definitely agree on AAI and I wish that GCLC might become a EU-style AAI to “assure that competition works in the interests of consumers”. Not sure though to have found such an objective in its mission statement! 😉

    Alberto Alemanno

    23 February 2011 at 4:59 pm

  4. […] posts on this pending case we have always highlighted the good timing of complainants (see here). Also, last April, Nicolas wrote here that the “chief, and maybe sole merit […]

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