Wow, European Lawyers Really Have It Out for Google
It looks like Google’s legal headaches in Europe are about to get worse, thanks to a new site that aims to become a hub for companies and organizations that believe they’ve been harmed by the search giant’s allegedly anticompetitive practices.
The Google Redress and Integrity Platform, or GRIP, was unveiled today by law firm Hausfeld & Co and public affairs consultancy Avisa to target the company with civil lawsuits. European companies that believe they have been affected by Google’s alleged antitrust behavior can apply to join GRIP to have their civil cases evaluated by Hausfeld, for a fee. The firms behind GRIP say they’re undertaking the initiative independently and don’t have any other corporate backing.
“Do you feel Google may have harmed you and/or your business?” reads a splashy banner on the slickly designed site. “Share your story with the community.”
The threat of civil action is the latest sortie in a multi-pronged legal campaign against Google in Europe. First, the European Union ruled that Google must remove links to sites containing outdated personal information — the so-called “right to be forgotten.” Then the European Union filed antitrust charges against the company and is considering stricter regulations governing its future.
GRIP will focus mostly on providing information to Google’s legal challengers, at least initially. Avisa will consider applications from businesses seeking to sue Google on a case-by-case basis, according to the site, then refer cases to lawyers at Hausfeld to weigh their legal merits.
The civil suits will hinge largely on the outcome of the EU’s antitrust case. Last April, the European Commission—the executive branch of the European Union—formally filed antitrust charges against the company, alleging that Google used its dominant position in search to disadvantage competitors, particularly those in the comparative shopping market.
The EC also recently launched an investigation into whether Google was abusing its role as the maker of the world’s most popular smart phone operating system, Android, in negotiations with handset makers and carriers. If the commission finds against Google, the company may face penalties up to $6.4 billion—around 10 percent of its revenue, not counting any payouts that may arise from civil suits.
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