European Commission: January deadline for Google antitrust response

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Internet giant Google has been given until the end of next month to address complaints that its search engine favours its own products over those of competitors.

In an antitrust saga that has spanned many months, the firm has now been given until January to respond to the European Commission's concerns.

The search engine firm could find itself fined up to $4bn (£2.5bn) if found guilty of breaching antitrust rules.

Google has been fighting the threat of an antitrust case on two fronts for many months now, with the Federal Trade Commission in the US also deliberating over whether to take action against the firm; although its pursuit of Google has somewhat wavered recently.

Both commissions have raised concerns about how Google's vertical search results favour its own products, however the firm has always stood by the integrity of its search engine.

The firm claims its search algorithm only has its users in mind, and there is never any obligation on their part to actually use Google's own services - despite the fact that in SEO terms, by ranking them top of user search results, it naturally makes them seem the best option.

EU competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, stated that he had, "decided to continue with the process towards reaching an agreement,"  in order to settle the investigation.

In an emailed statement he wrote: "Since our preliminary talks with Google started in July, we have substantially reduced our differences.

"On the basis of the progress made, I now expect Google to come forward with a detailed commitment text in January 2013."

A similar 20-month investigation by the FTC in America, also looks set to carry on into the new year with sources close to the situation telling Bloomberg they expected a decision, initially due this week, to now be delayed.

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