Google has reached a settlement with the European Union that effectively ends an antitrust investigation that had been ongoing for more than three years. Under terms of the deal, Google agreed to alter the search results shown in Europe so that competitor's webpages are "clearly visible" when users look up specialized services such as lodging and restaurants. Going forward, European users will see services of three rivals in the same way that Google shows its own services.
Another day, another antitrust suit. Granted, not all of them are focused on Google -- Microsoft's had its fair share of antitrust lawsuits, too -- though this one is, and it's coming from Brazil. Over in Brazil, Google is under investigation for alleged anticompetitive practices involving the use of rivals' content, discouraging their advertisers, and favoring its own product listings in its search results.
Even for a company as financially stable as Intel, paying a $1.3 billion fine doesn't come easy, or without hesitation. It's even tougher to fork over the funds when it's believed the fine is based on "profoundly inadequate" evidence, as the Santa Clara chip maker referred to the European Commission's investigation, which led to the record breaking penalty. Intel is hoping to have the three-year-old fine removed, or at least reduced, via appeal.
In the grand scheme of things, there aren't many companies that can afford to cut checks for billion-dollar fines. Microsoft is one of them, but that doesn't mean it will go about it willingly. Even for Microsoft, $1.3 billion, which is roughly the amount the European Union (EU) penalized the software giant for in 2008 when it imposed a fine of 899 million euros for antitrust shenanigans, is a lot of money. Following an appeal, Microsoft won't have to pay quite as much, but it does still owe the bulk of the original fine.
An unknown factor in Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility has always been the scrutiny it would receive from European regulators. It’s a good day in Mountain View, because Reuters is reporting that the EU is prepared to grant its unconditional approval of the deal. Google announced the $12.5 billion buyout last year, but said Motorola will operate as a separate entity.
Apple on Tuesday was fined 900,000 euros (about $1.2 million) by Italy's Antitrust Authority following an investigation into complaints of "unfair commercial practices" relating to its retail stores. The company's first retail store opened in Italy in 2006 in Ponte di Nona, and now there are nine stores in all located in various parts of the country.
The European Commission has launched a formal investigation and opened antitrust proceedings to determine if Apple and several international publishers colluded to fix prices of eBooks. Publishers named in the investigation include Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and Verlagsgrupe Georg von Holzbrinck.
The Wall Street Journal has reported today that the Federal Trade Commission is preparing to serve Google with subpoenas, kicking off a formal antitrust investigation. They will be attempting to determine if Google has abused it market position to suppress competition. While this is not the first FTC investigation of Google, it’s likely setting off serious alarm bells at Mountain View due to its scope.
The European Union frowns on mega-mergers and doesn't like it when a handful of companies control an entire industry. It's not afraid to spank companies that try to grab power, either; just ask Microsoft and Intel, who were each slapped with bowel-quiveringly huge antitrust fines in excess of 1 billion euros in the past. Now, Seagate and Western Digital find themselves in the regulatory spotlight as each company tries to take over competitors in the increasingly cut-throat hard drive business.
Google has received federal approval for its purchase of travel software company ITA. Google has faced intense scrutiny over the sale from the government as well as from the competition, like Microsoft Bing and Expedia. But it's not a free-for-all, Google will have to adhere to some fairly strict guidelines.