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Google Antitrust Deal in Works? Schmidt Meets With Key EU Regulator

Danny Goodwin
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Outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt met with Joaquin Almunia, vice president of the European Commission, during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland to discuss the ongoing EU antitrust investigation.

During the meeting, Schmidt asked Almunia to quickly complete the inquiry, which consists of sending out questionnaires to companies (and were due back by the middle of this month). Schmidt also reportedly wants Almunia to give Google a chance to offer a solution to the findings before any punishment -- potentially up to 10 percent of Google's worldwide revenue -- is handed down.

Almunia said he would try, the New York Times reported.

A Google spokesperson said, "We frequently talk to regulators as a normal part of any investigation process," and a spokeswoman for Almunia said he was "happy with Google's cooperation in the commission's investigation."

The companies alleging Google wrongdoing are U.K. price comparison site Foundem (partly funded by Microsoft); French legal search engine ejustice.fr; and Microsoft's Ciao by Bing.

On a related note, 1plusV, parent company of ejustice.fr, today in a supplementary complaint to the EC accused Google of blocking its vertical search engines from using AdSense between 2006 and 2010, the AP reported. The company also alleges that, after filing its original complaint, Google retaliated against 1plusV by delisting its sites in Google's search results.

Also on the antitrust front, Google is facing an investigation in Texas. Plus, Google's attempt to buy travel software company ITA is facing additional criticism from non-profit think tank American Antitrust Institute (AAI), which released this whitepaper Friday.


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