Google offers to brand its own services to fix antitrust concerns

Facing antitrust woes in Europe, the search giant is reportedly mulling branding its own services — such as maps, stock quotes, and airline details — to distinguish them from other search results, says the Financial Times.

Google may be offering European regulators a new carrot stick to avoid an antitrust suit.

Under a new proposal, Google would label its own in-house services to separate them from those of third parties among its search results, according to the Financial Times. The offer is Google’s latest attempt to placate European Union regulators who say the search giant is crowding out the rest of the market.

“People familiar” with the proposal told the Times that Google would tag its own maps, stock quotes, airline details, and other information to clearly identify them in its search results. The proposal itself was reportedly dangled to EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia weeks ago.

Almunia has been after Google to offer concessions or face an antitrust trial.

In May, the commissioner offered Google a deal to close the book on the antitrust case if the company addressed four areas of concern. One of those areas cited Google’s method of displaying its own services in a different manner than services from competing companies.

So it’s not clear if Google’s labeling of its own search results would actually help or hurt its case.

The proposal has already received a thumbs down from some Google’s rivals, who complain that the company could still promote its own services at the expense of others, the Times noted.

CNET contacted Google for comment and will update the story if we receive any information. In the past, the company has simply said that it continues to cooperate with EU investigators.

The EU has given Google several chances to avoid a legal skirmish by addressing the key concerns. But time may be running out for the search giant. Almunia recently said that negotiations could not keep dragging on, the Times added, and that a decision on whether to go to court is expected before the end of the year.

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