Google loses €2.4bn Google Shopping case

Google has lost its appeal against a €2.42 billion online EU competition fine, which alleged that the BigTech favoured its “own comparison-shopping service over competing services”.

The ruling by The General Court of Luxembourg, dates to accusations first made in 2017, when EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager first launched an investigation into Google's position in the e-commerce market.

The Commission said that “the results of product searches made using Google’s general search engine were positioned and displayed in a more eye-catching manner when the results came from Google’s own comparison-shopping service than when they came from competing comparison shopping services.”

The Commission also said that “the latter results, which appeared as simple generic results (displayed in the form of blue links), were accordingly, unlike results from Google’s comparison-shopping service, prone to being demoted by adjustment algorithms in Google’s general results pages.”

The Google Shopping case is the first of three legal cases that saw the search giant incur €8.25 billion euros in EU antitrust fines in the past decade.

Google is still awaiting settlements in two other EU-led antitrust cases, relating to alleged abuses of power related to its Android mobile operating system and its AdSense advertising service.

The Luxembourg court’s decision could potentially strength the European Commission’s ongoing legal battles against other BigTech firms, including 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 favouring its own comparison shopping service over competing comparison shopping services," said The General Court of Luxembourg

Google did not specify if it would appeal the case to Europe's top court, the EU Court of Justice (CJEU).

The search giant is not the only BigTech firm facing significant antitrust allegations.

In September, Apple App Store developers became able to direct their users to outside payment methods, other than the BigTech’s in-house offering, following a ruling by the US District Court of Northern California.

“The rules give new and immediate vigour to straightforward enforcement of existing competition rules without the need to await the new legislation being adopted and coming into force,” said Alec Burnside, a partner at Brussels’s based law firm Dechert which has worked on complaints against Google. “The ruling infuses more oxygen to Vestager’s move to tackle big tech. The commission took the Shopping case decision to establish a precedent and that has now been validated.”

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