A two-year investigation into a European Union antitrust complaint against search giant Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) will apparently end with a settlement, not a protracted legal proceeding. That’s the report, at least, in the Financial Times.
The details of the agreement are not yet clear, but the key EU demand — that Google extend its remedies for desktop-based search to cover mobile search as well — has been agreed to by the company. The investigation had dealt with charges that Google favored its own products in search results; copied content from rivals without permission; hampered competition through advertising agreements; and restricted advertisers from moving ad campaigns to competing search engines.
Google no doubt wanted to avoid the 10-year long legal fight that Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) waged against antitrust charges related to its desktop operating system. Microsoft ended up paying a fine of around $800 million in 2004 and could face a payment of another $860 million fine related to the failing to comply with the terms of the antitrust decision against the company. Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) paid a fine of nearly $1.5 billion in 2009 for anticompetitive behavior in the European market.
By agreeing to a deal with the EU, Google avoids paying a fine and likely won’t have to admit to any wrongdoing.
Google’s shares are trading down about -1.5% today at $606.12 in a 52-week range of $480.60-$670.25.