The European Union’s General Court has rejected Google’s appeal of a $2.8 billion European Commission fine for giving its own shopping suggestions an illegal advantage in search results.
The commission fined the American technology giant in 2017 for wrongfully directing visitors to its Google Shopping service at the expense of smaller European competitors.
The General Court ruled that it “largely dismisses” Google’s appeal and is upholding the fine after “finding that Google abused its dominant position by favoring its own comparison-shopping service over competing” services.
Google, which is also appealing two other EU antitrust penalties totaling $9.5 billion, said in a statement it amended its practices in 2017 to comply with the European Commission’s decision.
“Our approach has worked successfully for more than three years, generating billions of clicks for more than 700 comparison shopping services,” the statement said.
Earlier this year, the commission launched antitrust probes into whether Google and Facebook are suppressing competition in the classified and digital advertising sectors. The commission is also investigating Apple over payments and Amazon, another U.S. tech giant, over concerns it is unfairly competing with independent retailers on its platform with its own products.
Google said it has not decided whether to appeal Wednesday’s ruling in the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court.
Some information in this report also came from The Associated Press and Reuters.
LUXEMBOURG, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Alphabet unit Google lost an appeal to a 2.42-billion-euro ($2.8-billion) European antitrust decision on Wednesday, a major win for the bloc’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager in the first of three court rulings that will strengthen the EU’s push to regulate big tech.
Vestager sanctioned the world’s most popular internet search engine in 2017 for favoring its own price-comparison shopping service to give it an unfair advantage against smaller European rivals.
The shopping case was the first of a trio of decisions that has seen Google rack up a total of 8.25 billion euros in EU antitrust fines in the last decade. The company could face yet more defeats in the other two cases involving its Android mobile operating system and AdSense advertising service, where the EU is seen to have stronger arguments.
The court ruling will strengthen Vestager’s hand in her investigations into Amazon, Apple and Facebook.
“The General Court largely dismisses Google’s action against the decision of the Commission finding that Google abused its dominant position by favoring its own comparison shopping service over competing comparison shopping services,” the Court said.
“Google departed from competition on the merits,” judges said.
The court said the Commission correctly found that Google’s practices harmed competition and swatted away the company’s argument that the presence of merchant platforms showed there was strong competition.
The court backed the EU fine, citing the serious nature of the infringement and the fact that “the conduct in question was adopted intentionally, not negligently.”
Google said it would review the judgment and that it has already complied with the Commission’s order to ensure a level playing field for rivals. It did not say if it would appeal to the EU Court of Justice (CJEU), Europe’s top court.
The Commission welcomed the ruling, saying it would provide legal clarity for the market.
“The Commission will continue to use all tools at its disposal to address the role of big digital platforms on which businesses and users depend to, respectively, access end users and access digital services,” the EU executive said in a statement.
Rivals such as U.S. search Yelp and those in the travel, restaurant and accommodation industries will be hoping that Vestager’s victory will revive other dormant investigations triggered by their complaints.
The EU watchdog is currently focusing its energies on Google’s use of data and its digital advertising business. The company is now seeking to settle the latter case, a person familiar with the matter has told Reuters.
Separately, on Tuesday, the UK Supreme Court blocked https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/uk-supreme-court-blocks-43-bln-google-class-action-over-iphone-tracking-2021-11-10 a planned $4.3 billion British class action against Google over allegations the internet giant unlawfully tracked the personal information of millions of iPhone users.
To augment her antitrust powers, Vestager last year proposed new landmark tech rules that will force U.S. tech giants to change their business models to ensure a level playing field for rivals.
LONDON (AP) — A top European Union court on Wednesday rejected Google’s appeal of a 2.4 billion euro ($2.8 billion) fine from regulators who found the tech giant abused its massive online reach by giving its own shopping recommendations an illegal advantage in search results.
The European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s top competition watchdog, punished Google in 2017 for unfairly directing visitors to its own shopping service, Google Shopping, to the detriment of competitors. The EU’s General Court ruled that it “largely dismisses” Google’s appeal of that antitrust penalty and is upholding the fine.
“The General Court thus rules that, in reality, Google favors its own comparison shopping service over competing services, rather than a better result over another result,” it said in a press release.
Google said it made changes in 2017 to comply with the European Commission’s decision.
“Our approach has worked successfully for more than three years, generating billions of clicks for more than 700 comparison shopping services,” a Google statement said.
The fine was part of an effort by European regulators to curb the online giant’s clout on the continent. It was followed by two other blockbuster antitrust penalties against Google, totaling 8.25 billion euros ($9.5 billion), which the company also is appealing.
The penalties were early salvos in the EU’s crackdown on tech companies, which has expanded to include other Silicon Valley digital giants. The commission this year launched fresh antitrust investigations into whether Google and Facebook are stifling competition in digital and classified advertising markets. It’s also investigating Apple over payments and Amazon over concerns it’s unfairly competing against independent merchants on its platform with its own products.
Meanwhile, the EU and U.K. are drafting new rules to make social media companies more accountable for illegal and harmful content on their platforms, with the threat of fines worth up to 10% of global annual revenue if they don’t comply.
Wednesday’s ruling can still be appealed to the European Court of Justice, the bloc’s highest court, but only on points of law, not the facts. Google hasn’t decided whether to do so, saying it will closely review the decision.
The case began after the commission received a complaint in 2009 that led to an investigation, with EU regulators demanding Google change the way it provides search results in Europe.