Google, E.U. Settle Antitrust Case Over Search Results

Google avoided billions of dollars in fines by agreeing to display links to rival sites in search results.
Posted at 7:20 PM, Feb 05, 2014

Google temporarily settled a three-year antitrust case with the European Union Wednesday that could've resulted in billions of dollars in fines. Instead, the tech company agreed to change how it displays links from rival companies in search results. 

The E.U. initially launched an investigation in 2010 into the Mountainview, Calif.-based company over one main problem area: that Google had been unfairly promoting its own search results and discriminating against competing sites. 

The Los Angeles Times writes, "​Microsoft Corp. and other Google rivals had complained to European regulators that Google was treating rival services differently in search results than it did its own, squelching competition for restaurant reviews, airfare shopping and other services."

On Wednesday, the tech company agreed to concessions that would display rivals' links alongside Google's links in European search results, like so. (Via European Union)

The E.U. says Google's proposed change "provides users with real choice between competing services presented in a comparable way; it is then up to them to choose the best alternative."

Not only does Google dodge a bullet by not having to pay fines, but as Bloomberg reports, competitors will pay Google at least 3 euro cents to bid on spots for that shaded region that pops up in search results. 

According to BBC, a Microsoft-backed lobbying group was none too pleased with the outcome, saying: "A settlement without third party review is a massive failure. ... We need time and opportunity to ensure full technical assessment of how effective the proposed remedies would be."

CNET notes the settlement isn't over just yet. The E.U. will hear feedback from the original 18 companies that filed complaints against Google. After that, the E.U. will either ask for more concessions from Google or make the deal final.