Google lost its antitrust appeal at Europe’s second-highest court

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Alphabet’s Google suffered a loss in Europe’s second-highest court when it challenged an EU antitrust ruling with a 2.42-billion euro fine. The ruling is a major win for Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition chief.

Vestager sanctioned the search giant in 2017 for favouring its own price-comparison shopping service to gain an unfair advantage against smaller European competitors. The shopping case was the first of three decisions that have seen Google’s total fines reach 8.25 billion euros in EU antitrust fines in the past ten years. Vestager then took on Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, all of which are under investigation.

The court’s decision

The General Court largely dismissed Google’s action against the decision of the Commission, finding that the company abused its dominant position by favouring its own comparison-shopping service over those of competitors with a smaller reach and fewer cache of data. Google responded to this by saying that it made changes in 2017 to comply with the European Commission’s decision.

Google can appeal to the EU Court of Justice, the top court in the bloc, on points of law. The case is numbered T-612/17 Google v Commission (Google Shopping).

The gatekeepers have to be controlled

In a statement, Google continued to say that the approach it took has worked successfully for more than three years, generating billions of clicks for more than 700 comparison shopping services. The fine imposed on the company is a part of an effort by the bloc’s regulators to curb the power of online cloud giants.

The investigation that led to the fine found that Google unfairly directed visitors to its comparison-shopping service, Google Shopping, affecting rivals negatively with the massive advantage of the world’s biggest search engine.