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Google rejects European Union's anti-competitive charges

Staff writer |
Google rejected the European Union's charges that it abused its market power and the demanded that it change the way it ranks online comparison shopping services in its search results.

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"We've taken seriously the concerns in the European Commission's Statement of Objections (SO) that our innovations are anti-competitive. The response we filed today shows why we believe those allegations are incorrect, and why we believe that Google increases choice for European consumers and offers valuable opportunities for businesses of all sizes," Kent Walker, SVP and general counsel said in the company's blog.

Google argued that the EU's charges fail to take into account the fast growth of companies such as Amazon and eBay that the company says pose a new competitive threat, which undercuts the case that it has harmed comparison shopping companies.

Google said its response provided evidence and data to show why the SO's concerns are unfounded. It uses traffic analysis to rebut claims that its ad displays and specialized organic results harmed competition by preventing shopping aggregators from reaching consumers. Economic data spanning more than a decade, an array of documents, and statements from complainants all confirm that product search is robustly competitive.

Google noted that the SO also seeks a peculiar and problematic remedy, requiring that Google show ads sourced and ranked by other companies within the company's advertising space.

The company shows in its response that this would harm the quality and relevance its results. And, in a report submitted with response, former President of the General Court Bo Vesterdorf outlines why such an obligation could be legally justified only where a company has a duty to supply its own rivals - as where it controls an input that is both essential and not available anywhere else (like gas or electricity).

Given the many ways to reach consumers on the Internet, the SO doesn't argue that standard applies here.

"We believe that the SO's preliminary conclusions are wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics. We look forward to discussing our response and supporting evidence with the Commission, in the interest of promoting user choice and open competition," Kent Walker said.

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