Google given EU anti-trust deadline

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Image caption Complaints have been made that Google favours its own products when serving up search results

Google has been given a month to address complaints its search results favour its own services over those of its rivals.

EU regulators said they would end their investigation into the allegations if Google came "forward with a detailed commitment text in January 2013".

If found guilty of breaching anti-trust rules, Google could face a fine of up to $4bn (£2.5bn).

Google said it continued to co-operate with the EU competition commission.

EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said he had "decided to continue with the process towards reaching an agreement" to settle the investigation.

"Since our preliminary talks with Google started in July, we have substantially reduced our differences," he wrote in an emailed statement.

"On the basis of the progress made, I now expect Google to come forward with a detailed commitment text in January 2013."

The commission had been investigating Google since November 2010, following complaints from several rivals.

In May this year, Mr Almunia said Google had the chance to outline steps to address the claims, rather than face formal action.

The investigation centres on four areas:

  • the manner in which Google displays "its own vertical search services differently" from other, competing products
  • how Google "copies content" from other websites - such as restaurant reviews - to include within its own services
  • the "exclusivity" Google has to sell advertising around search terms people use
  • restrictions on advertisers from moving their online ad campaigns to rival search engines

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