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Google says did 'good job' replying to EU antitrust probe

The Google signage is seen at the company's headquarters in New York January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
The Google signage is seen at the company's headquarters in New York January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Ethan Bilby

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Google said on Monday it had done a good job coming up with concessions to allay EU antitrust concerns it blocks competitors in web search results, as it sought to deflect criticism the proposals would serve only to reinforce its dominance.

The world's most popular search engine has been under investigation for nearly three years by the European Commission, the EU executive.

More than a dozen companies, including Microsoft, British price comparison site Foundem and German online mapping company Hotmaps, have accused it of squeezing them out of the market.

Google proposed concessions in April, hoping to end a case which could otherwise lead to a fine of up to $5 billion. It offered to label its own products in internet search results and make it easier for advertisers to move to rival platforms.

Its competitors, asked by the Commission to comment on the proposals, said the plans would actually strengthen Google's dominance of internet searches by forcing rivals to compete among themselves, and would also raise their costs.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Google would almost certainly be asked to improve its proposals.

However Google's general counsel Kent Walker said on Monday that its offer went far enough.

"Our proposals are meaningful and comprehensive, providing additional choice and information while also leaving room for future innovation," Walker said on the company's Europe blog.

"That's why we focused on addressing the Commission's specific concerns, and we think we did a pretty good job."

Walker's were the first substantial comments from Google on the matter since it made its offer.

If the Commission decides Google's proposals resolve the competition concerns, they can make the commitments legally binding for the company.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission ended its investigation into the same matter without any significant action in January, handing Google a major victory.

(Editing by Pravin Char)

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