eBay has declared its support for Google in its ongoing legal wrangle with the European Commission (EC), which accuses it of anticompetitive behaviour in the search market.
The move follows the EC's filing of a Statement of Objections, which alleges that Google has abused its leading position in the search engine market to unfairly boost its own shopping comparison service over that of rivals. Google strongly refutes this.
The Financial Times reports that John Donahoe, eBay's chief executive, came to Google's defence claiming that the EC misunderstands how people buy products online, and supported Google's claims that it is dwarfed in the online shopping arena by eBay and Amazon.
Donahoe's defence of Google might surprise some people given he said that eBay considers the search giant to be a rival: "We are a strong commerce competitor [of Google]."
Google and the EC have been at odds on numerous occasions over the search giant's commercial practices. A series of antitrust tussles have seen Google make multiple revised concessions over the way it serves up search engine results.
Understandably, Google has fought back against the latest accusations, with a recent blog post arguing the Statement of Objections is "wide of the mark".
Google noted that there are numerous ways for people to find and access relevant information, from using rival search engines to carry out searches through apps and social networks.
In the blog, Google's senior vice president, Amit Singhal, said that the company cannot be stifling competition given the growth of new companies in the online shopping search market, and thereby refutes the findings of the EC.
"We respectfully but strongly disagree with the need to issue a Statement of Objections and look forward to making our case over the weeks ahead," he wrote.
However, there are arguments that Google does not compete with either Amazon or eBay as it only offers a comparison service for online shopping rather than acting as a full e-commerce platform which enables third-party transactions to be completed upon it.
The situation is further confused by Google changing the way it handles shopping searches since the EC first began its antitrust investigations. Whereas Google used to rank shopping results on its search algorithm, it now allows merchants to bid in auctions to have their websites listed in Google's shopping search results.
In effect this meant that the EC's call for Google to apply its search algorithms in a fairer fashion can be seen as irrelevant to how the search giant currently handles shopping results.
V3 has a full rundown of the key facts in Google's EC antitrust probe.
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