Brussels said tech giant abused dominance by manipulating search results to favour its own comparison shopping service. Google is appealing against the record €2.4bn (£2.2bn) fine imposed by the European Union for its abuse of its dominance of the search engine market in building its shopping comparison service.
The world’s most popular internet search engine has launched its appeal after it was fined by the European commission for what was described as an “old school” form of illegality.
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. The Silicon Valley giant had responded to the fine at the time of its announcement by saying that it “respectfully” disagreed with the legal argument being pursued.
A spokesman for the commission said: “The commission will defend its decision in court.”
In June, the EU official in charge of competition policy, commissioner Margrethe Vestager, told reporters that Google, a unit of US parent company Alphabet, had artificially and illegally promoted its own price comparison service in searches, denied both its consumers real choice and rival firms the ability to compete on a level playing field.
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” Vestager said. “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.”
It was claimed by Brusels that the abuse caused traffic to Google’s shopping service to jump 45-fold in the UK, 35-fold in Germany and 19-fold in France.
The commission, which ordered Google to stop the practice by 28 September, is reviewing the company’s proposal on how it would comply with the EU decision. A spokeswoman for the general court in Luxembourg said Google had not asked for an interim order to suspend the EU decision, leaving it potentially open to fines for every day it fails to reform its ways.