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April 27, 2015

eBay backs Google defence in EU antitrust case

Auction site confirms it is direct contest with search engine.

By Jimmy Nicholls

eBay has backed up Google’s defence in an antitrust inquiry brought against the search engine by the EU Commission.

Speaking to the Financial Times, eBay chief executive John Donahoe claimed that his company was in direct contest with Google online, confirming arguments made by the search engine in recent blog posts.

His comments followed a complaint filed by the recently appointed EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who accused Google of abusing its dominance of the search market to promote its other services.

In response to the allegations Google posted traffic figures showing that UK shoppers were far more likely to turn to Amazon and eBay than its own Shopping service.

However others have argued that the comparison is spurious because Shopping is a price-comparison website rather than a merchant or trading platform like Amazon or eBay.

"As Google is well aware, neither Amazon nor eBay are rivals to Google’s shopping comparison service," Shivaun Raff, co-founder of price-comparison service Foundem told the FT.

In previous settlements with the EU Google promised to give greater prominence to its competitors when responding to search requests relating to shopping.

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However the remedies proved to be unpalatable to the commission, which has been investigating the search engine intermittently for the past five years over complaints ranging from its Android mobile OS to the controversial "right to be forgotten".

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