GRIP – the Google Redress & Integrity Platform – is a vehicle to assist in assessment of potential damages claims, on behalf of businesses and individuals, in relation to Google’s alleged anticompetitive behaviour. GRIP is a platform in that it is easily accessible to potential members all across Europe. When you become a GRIP member, and if you have a viable complaint against Google, Avisa and/or Hausfeld will work to identify an appropriate forum in Europe for you to assert your rights and in some cases seek redress for any relevant harm. GRIP is based in Brussels. To find out more about GRIP, please click here.
GRIP’s aim is to be an alternative, independent and easier mechanism for the appropriate stakeholders to evaluate the impact of such business practices of Google that raise concerns of competition watchdogs across Europe. Internally, GRIP will be able to inform and develop its overall strategy as we progress, and build a bigger picture of the impact of Google’s behaviour in Europe.
Google’s alleged anti-competitive behaviour has potential to prevent and/or reduce competition in several technology markets, harm consumers and dynamic small companies, and stifle innovation. We believe that the ultimate number of businesses and individuals potentially affected could be significant. GRIP will work with you to better understand whether you or your business have been harmed by Google’s anticompetitive business practices and, if appropriate, refer you to legal practitioners who will provide you with expert and realistic advice, which will reflect your individual needs and circumstances.
GRIP has two founders: specialist competition law firm Hausfeld & Co LLP (Hausfeld) and a public affairs consultancy Avisa Partners (Avisa). Avisa is a consultancy focused on European Union policy development and regulatory enforcement registered since July 2009 on the Joint European Transparency Register of the European Commission and the European Parliament. It has followed the EC investigation since 2009 and is assisting 1plusV, a French Internet search firm, one of the companies whose original complaint prompted the EC’s investigation into Google’s search criteria. Hausfeld is a global law firm with offices in Brussels, London, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Hausfeld stands alone as the pre-eminent competition and antitrust litigation firm for claimants. Whilst pursuing more cartel damages claims than any other firm in Europe and the US, we also consistently deliver litigation strategies that bring a successful resolution of the claims through settlement and commercial dialogue. Hausfeld recently announced settlements for over $2billion in relation to the FX litigation.
GRIP is not an industry lobby, but an independent platform for evaluation of potential claims (mostly antitrust) against Google, which closely follows developments in public enforcement against Google, both on European and national level. GRIP benefits from the combined experience of Avisa and Hausfeld. We will seek an open dialogue with you about your needs and concerns. Avisa is available to address any queries at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to become part of GRIP
Go to the “Join us” page and share your story with us by filling in the membership form. As soon as we receive your application, we will contact you to find out more about your story and assess how Google’s conduct may have impacted you and/or your business. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis by Avisa, and the ultimate selection will be discretionary. Once past the filtering stage, Avisa will refer your case to Hausfeld for an assessment of the legal merits of your case. If you have any questions, please send us an email at: email@example.com. We will get back to you as soon as possible. If you wish to join GRIP, please go to the “Join us”- LINK page and fill in the membership form.
GRIP is open to any organisation, association, business or individual that believes they may have been harmed by Google's anticompetitive business practices, all across Europe.
Where Google has indeed engaged in anticompetitive conduct, its actions could have had a profound effect not only on its competitors - from large multi-national companies to SMEs and local businesses - but also on its own customers. The magnitude of any such anticompetitive practices would be exacerbated by Google’s size and the lack of sector-specific regulation.
GRIP membership fees are transparent, and we will not increase them. The fees do not include any potential litigation costs, however where possible we will get you the support of litigation funders and insurers. For more information please go to the “Terms & Conditions” page.
Everything you tell us is confidential. We will not capture and store any personal information about individuals who access the GRIP website, except where you voluntarily choose to give us your personal details via registration or e-mail. We will also not release your name to the public, unless you give us your consent to do so. Please note that if you choose to progress your case to litigation stage and you choose to progress via the courts, your involvement in any such proceedings may become public as this information will be accessible through the court records.
About Google’s European Abuse of Dominance investigation
The European Commission’s antitrust investigation into Google opened in November 2010.
Over recent years, Google has become the focus of antitrust investigations in 20 jurisdictions around the world, including the EU, the US, France, Brazil, Argentina, India and South Korea. On April 15, 2015 the European Commission (EC) sent a Statement of Objections (SO) to Google outlining the preliminary view that the company abused its dominant position in breach of EU antitrust rules by systematically favouring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages. The EC has also expressed its concerns about other Google practices: alleged exclusivity obligations preventing advertisers from placing competing ads on their websites; copying of rival’s web content in Google’s search services without consent; and contractual restrictions discouraging advertisers from diverting their online search advertising campaigns from Google AdWords. The EC has now formally opened a separate antitrust investigation into Google's conduct with regards to the mobile operating system Android.
A Statement of Objections (SO) is a formal step in the Commission investigations into suspected violations of EU antitrust rules. The Commission informs the investigated parties in writing of the objections raised against them, that is, of the concerns it has regarding the legality of the parties’ conduct. The addressees can examine the documents related to the Commission's investigation file, reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present their comments on the case before the Commission and national competition authorities. The Commission takes a final decision only after the parties have exercised their rights of defence.
When a company uses its dominance over the market to artificially raise prices (i.e. not in line with costs or market conditions), squeeze competitors’ margins, or enter new markets, it may constitute an abuse of that dominant position. The Commission’s concern is that Google has abused its dominant position in the European market for general Internet search services by:- systematically favouring its own shopping comparison product in its general search results page, - copying original material from competing vertical search companies, - imposing exclusivity requirements restrictions in advertisement agreements, - restricting transfers of online search advertising campaigns away from Google's AdWords.Competition in the market is important both for consumers and businesses. It encourages enterprise and efficiency, creates a wider choice for consumers, drives lower prices, and improves quality. Abusive dominant behaviour prevents or reduces competition and can cause direct or indirect financial harm to competitors or customers, both business and individual.
Even though the European Commission has been investigating Google for only five years, it appears that the practices had started long before. The preliminary view is that Google's overwhelming market power is based on a search algorithm which has not yet been disclosed to the authorities. The algorithm, in place since 2008 and changed around 500 times a year, would allow Google to systematically display its comparison shopping service in its general search results pages, irrespective of the merits.
The duration of an antitrust investigation depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the undertaking concerned cooperates with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.
The focus of the current Statement of Objections is on online shopping and appears to be the result of the European Commission’s choice to favour speedy enforcement over scope of investigation. Nevertheless, the current Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has been very clear that other potential markets and abuses will be duly investigated. Most notably, she recently announced the opening of a formal investigation into Google Android.
Yes. Google has become the focus of antitrust investigations in 20 jurisdictions around the world, including France and other EU countries, the US, Brazil, Argentina, India and South Korea. There are also a number of private claims for damages being brought against Google, following the allegations of abuse.
Potential damages claims
In principle, yes. Our main goal is to assess any potential claims against Google. In the event that we think that you have an appropriate claim, we will refer you to Hausfeld for a further assessment of the legal merits of your case. Hausfeld will use their extensive expertise to advise you on the best way to proceed and, together with you, devise an appropriate strategy in Europe. Our approach is to be flexible and responsive and to cater to the individual needs and specific circumstances of each GRIP client. There are a number of ways in which you can protect your rights and your business including, where appropriate, claims for damages. Before considering a full-on damages action, Hausfeld will work with you to consider if there any other cost-efficient and adequate mechanisms to help you. Both the viability of claims and the potential damages amounts will be subject to a case-by-case appraisal. The levels of potential damages will therefore vary. To give you an idea, the few entities who have so far claimed redress in court have asked for very different amounts, from a few thousand to several hundred million euro. You will be made fully aware of the terms of engagement and we will agree any course of potential action which you wish to pursue.