Alphabet Inc.’s unit Google, the world’s most popular Internet search engine, has filed a legal appeal against a record 2.4 billion euros, or $2.9 billion, antitrust fine charged by European Union back in June for violating EU competition laws by abusing its dominance of the search engine market in building its product search comparison service known as Google Shopping, while simultaneously demoting links to similar services run by rivals.
It is a decision which Google will be hoping to overturn, maintained by the fact that earlier this month, the ECJ, Europe’s top court, ruled that a lower court should review an earlier failed antitrust appeal by Intel, referring to a 2009, 1.06 billion euros EC ruling.
The Commission’s findings concerned search results in 13 European countries, including the UK and Germany.
The Luxembourg-based general court, Europe’s second-highest, is expected to take several years before ruling on Google’s appeal, which had been widely expected. A court spokeswoman said Google has not asked for an interim order to suspend the EU decision.
Commissioner Margaret Vestager, the EU official in charge of competition policy in June, said that, “What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”
The Silicon valley titan had responded to the fine at the time of its announcement by saying that it respectfully disagreed with the legal argument being pursued.
The company said it disagreed with the Commission’s findings. It said the search results it displays reflect the wishes of consumer and that the Commission had not given sufficient consideration to the competition it faces from online platforms, such as Amazon and eBay when reaching its decision.
Moreover, it said that its entry into online shopping space has been good for consumers and retailers, and argues that it was not a monopoly player in online shopping.
“When the Commission asks why some comparison websites have not done as well as others, we think it should consider the many sites that have grown in this period, including platforms like Amazon and eBay,” a Google spokesperson said after the EU slapped the huge fine on the tech giant.
According to a report, the Commission is reviewing its Google Shopping decision in light of the ECJ’s Intel ruling.
Google has been given until September 28 to make changes to its search practices or face potential daily fines thereafter of up to 5% of its daily global revenue. The company submitted details of its plans on how it would amend the price comparison service, in compliance with the Commission’s antitrust order against Google Shopping.
Noncompliance with the order would risk a regime of additional sanctions that could be backdated to the date of any non-compliance. So, it may be that Google is intending to seek to comply while still pursuing a legal challenge.
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