EU, US antitrust officials to discuss Google investigations

03.12.2012 - 11:31

Joaquin Almunia and Jon Leibowitz, the top European and US antitrust officials who are leading separate investigations over Google, met on 3 December to discuss about the search engine and other cases.

According to a EU official familiar with the matter, they talked about “a full range of issues”, including “their investigation of search giant, Google and companies’ alleged abuse of standard-essential patents”.

The FTC and the European Commission have been investigating independently whether Google abused its dominance in Internet search to favour its own services and harm competitors. The US agency is expected to make a final decision by the end of the year, but small groups of lawyers and lobbyists believe that Google has convinced Jon Leibowitz to stop enforcement actions.

European Commission fear that the American firm could succeed in convincing FTC's regulators, something that could harm the European case. However, Google’s enemies stated that they will continue to fight in the US States even if Leibowitz will not take up their cause.

Months ago, Almunia called on Google to make changes to how its search engine works, or face formal antitrust enforcement action. In the past, this decision forced Microsoft to pay billions in fines, besides facing legal fees and damaging its reputation.

Meanwhile, Google's CEO Larry Page and FTC officials met last week in Washington, D.C. Leibowitz won an inside-the-Beltway “battle” to run the US antitrust investigation of the search engine rather than the Department of Justice.

Rumours related with the meeting began one week ago, but FTC declined to confirm its existence. A spokeswoman only affirmed that Leibowitz was in Europe on several matters but declined to ensure the existence of such appointment with Commissioner Almunia.

Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich said that the company will "continue to work cooperatively with the Federal Trade Commission and European Commission and are happy to answer any questions they may have.”