An offer by Google to modify how it displays Internet search results could settle a long-running antitrust dispute with the European Union, the EU competition chief said on Tuesday.
The world’s most popular search engine has been under investigation for three years by the European Commission, which acts as the bloc’s antitrust regulator, over complaints it was blocking competitors in search results.
More than a dozen companies, including Microsoft, British price comparison site Foundem and German online mapping company Hotmaps, have accused it of squeezing them out of the market.
Google proposed concessions in September, hoping to end a case which could otherwise lead to a fine of up to 10 percent of its global revenue, or $5 billion.
Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told lawmakers in the European Parliament on Tuesday he believed the company’s offer made it easier for web users to see results from Google’s rivals in Internet searches.
That’s nice but to think that it might be the beginning of the end for Google in this situation may be a little naive. Why? Well, everyone’s favorite group of whiners, FairSearch.org Europe will never agree that Google can go far enough to make search ‘fair’. It’s an old story and it’s one that might not go away ….. ever.
As Greg Sterling says over at Search Engine Land
Unless the new settlement offer’s changes are truly significant it’s unlikely that Google’s competitors will accept them. Almunia apparently can accept the Google settlement proposal over the objections of third parties. He seems politically reluctant to do so however.
Almunia was instrumental in negotiating the initial settlement proposal with Google. Then he appeared to be somewhat surprised and taken aback by the degree of opposition from “the market.”
Honestly, either Mr. Almunia wasn’t paying attention or he is completely clueless. These are the only two options to describe why someone would think that the FairSearch crew would go quietly into that good night.
In fact, the groups has already put its two cents in with the following
“Until we have seen the details of Google’s proposed remedies, it would be irresponsible to comment on their content and potential for correcting the anti-competitive behaviour identified by the European Commission in May 2012.
“However, for FairSearch Europe it is essential that the remedies install the principle of non-discrimination so that Google applies the same rules to its own services as it does to others when it returns and displays search results.
“FairSearch Europe also looks forward to a deep and broad market test among complainants and key stakeholders as the only way to test the effectiveness of the proposed remedies to restore competition in the online search market.”
Translation? “We don’t need to read no stinkin’ decision! It’s not enough no matter what it says!”
This story is now officially old and FairSearch only ends up looking worse and worse if that is even possible. But unfortunately it is not likely to be over unless Mr. Almunia steps up and ends it. Would you hold your breath on that one?