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Competition war

Can Google Convince Europe It Isn’t Evil?

VonDustin Volz

Google’s bellicose response to Europe’s antitrust charges belies the uphill battle the search giant faces. Some observers say the company, despite its energetic defense, faces a record, multi-billion-euro fine for boosting its services over others.

Eric Schmidt and Gabriel DPA

With its defiant response Thursday to Europe’s long-running antitrust investigation into its search practices, Google is betting potentially billions of dollars that it can convince the continent that, true to its mantra, it is not evil.

The European Commission’s “preliminary conclusions are wrong as a matter of fact, law and economics,” Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, wrote in a blog post published Thursday. “Economic data spanning more than a decade, an array of documents, and statements from complainants all confirm that product search is robustly competitive.”

The dispute centers on Google’s listings of its own services and those of competitors for services Google also provides. Currently Google commands roughly 90 percent of all Internet searches in Europe and other companies say that when users search for services such as shopping and hotel bookings, Google gives preferential listings to its own shopping services, even if they’re not the best deals.

Google’s Mr. Walker said rivals like Amazon and eBay are proof that there is ample competition in the European market.

Google’s rejection of charges was largely expected by those involved in the case and analysts watching the brawl from the sidelines.

The search giant has been locked in a battle with European regulators for nearly five years, and it had until Monday to submit comments after earning two deadline extensions.

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