Google Antitrust Situation Remains In Limbo, Pro-Google FTC Nominee Stays Out Of ItBy: Chris Crum - December 5, 2012
According to Reuters, EU competition chief Joaquin Almunia says EU antitrust regulators have not yet made a decision in their case against Google. Similarly, the company is still awaiting on a decision from the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S.
Reuters shares this quote from Almunia: “We are in the process of conversation with Google to try to reach a settlement, but we are not there yet.”
Google just doesn’t know how this is all going go go down, though the company has remained in talks with both agencies.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Schmidt admitted that he does not know how big a threat an antitrust lawsuit is right now. “We have been in quite continuous communications with both the Europeans and the Federal Trade Commission,” he is quoted as saying. “It’s time for them to sort of move to one resolution or another. It’s not like they don’t have a million documents and so forth. I remain optimistic.”
He also noted that he still sees Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook as the “Gang Of Four” companies that matter the most in consumer tech.
Later in the interview, Schmidt said that he does consider Apple’s Siri to be a competitor, adding, “I mean, in the antitrust filings, we actually use Siri as an example of future “non-conforming to the Web” competition, which we do worry about.”
Back in September, we reported that Joshua Wright, a law professor from George Mason University, was nominated to the FTC. This was big news for Google because he had written multiple papers in opposition to antitrust regulation against Google. One, for example, was called “Google and the Limits of Antitrust: The Case Against the Antitrust Case Against Google.”
Now, in a separate report, Reuters says Wright says he will recuse himself from Google issues for two years to avoid any conflict of interest. That is not quite as good of news for Google.
Even still, the FTC and EU seem to be struggling to truly come up with a substantial case against Google. Recent reports indicated that the FTC was wavering on whether it could prove consumers are hurt by the way the company ranks its search results.
Mr. Almunia, who Monday met Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, said: “We have very good relations with the competition authorities in the U.S.” He said Google wasn’t the only issue they discussed “but our services are working in very good coordination.”
Mr. Leibowitz has said his agency would make a decision on its course of action this year, but an EU official said the EU probe may not be resolved by then.
Obviously, time is running out if the FTC hopes to reach a decision before year’s end. It will be interesting to see if the EU’s longer timeframe will have an effect on how the U.S. agency proceeds.
Meanwhile, Google will simply have to wait and see, and continue to try and persuade regulators that it is not hurting consumers.