Consumer group urges Europe to block Google, Motorola merger

Summary:A U.S.-based consumer group has urged the European competition commissioner to block the proposed Google takeover of Motorola Mobility, in the first complaint of its kind.

U.S.-based Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group working on behalf of end-user consumers, has written a formal letter of complaint to the European Commission, asking the executive body to submit a formal complaint against Google's planned $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

The letter, written to the European antitrust commissioner Joaquin Almunia, not only asks the antitrust regulators to block the merger, but also to launch an investigation into the search giant's alleged wider anti-competitive practices.

The Commission has opened the door for complaints to be lodged by "interested third parties" who may be affected by the deal.

It appears this is the first such complaint put to the European authorities in opposition of the deal.

"We urge the Commission to block the proposed $12.5 billion deal," the letter states. It goes on to highlight a number of points showing Google's dominance in the mobile, mobile search, and the global advertising market.

"Allowing the Motorola Mobility deal would provide Google with unprecedented dominance in virtually all aspects of the mobile world –-- manufacturing, operating systems, search and advertising. It would be a virtually unstoppable juggernaut."

Consumer Watchdog has previously accused Google of engaging in "close relationships" with the U.S. government. The group highlights this again in its letter regarding the Motorola merger:

"The Commission’s role in keeping Google’s abuses in check is essential.  Its executives have close relationships with many U.S. officials and the company just spent a record $9.7 million in 2011 lobbying policymakers in Washington. We have faith the Commission will not succumb to such influence."

"We call on you to take the steps necessary to prevent it: block the Motorola merger and file a formal antitrust complaint against Google."

Google's proposed acquisition of the smartphone manufacturer Motorola Mobility would grant the search giant access to more than 17,000 patents.

Should European authorities deem the merger unacceptable and block the purchase, it would be unprecedented for the U.S. authorities --- who are simultaneously assessing the deal, and whether it would break U.S. antitrust laws --- not to follow suit with their European counterparts.

Google, and any other company operating in Europe, can be fined up to 10 percent of their global turnover for breaching European antitrust or competition laws.

Europe has until February 13th to make a formal decision on the fate of the Google---Motorola merger.

The full text of the letter can be found here [PDF].

Image source: CNET.

Related:

Topics: Banking, Enterprise Software, Google, Mobility

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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