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Thursday, December 2, 2021

EU wins 2.4 billion euro Google Shopping case

Google has already lost an appeal against a €2.42 billion EU competition fine for its shopping services, and this ruling may reinvigorate antitrust investigators to investigate how large technology companies promote their businesses.

General courts of luxembourg Ruling on Wednesday Google prefers “its own comparative shopping service over competing services” in its search results, rather than providing “better results”.

After a seven-year investigation, Margrethe Vestager, the head of EU antitrust, accused Google in 2017 of abusing its market power to provide an “illegal advantage” to another business unit. Since Google engaged in this behavior, some price comparison sites have gone bankrupt.

Foundem’s co-founder Shivaun Raff, a now-defunct shopping comparison site and the original plaintiff of the EU investigation, said: “Although we welcome today’s verdict, it does not eliminate the insidious search manipulation practices that have been carried out by Google for more than a decade. .”

Google stated that Wednesday’s judgment involved “a very specific set of facts” and that make change Comply with the decision of the European Commission in 2017.

The ruling is likely to be appealed. But this marks the first time that the European Court of Justice has ruled against Google on an antitrust case.

It has also strengthened the power of antitrust investigators who hope to handle similar cases where technology companies use their dominant position in one field to successfully enter another field. This practice is called “self-preference”.

“These rules provide new and direct vitality for the direct enforcement of existing competition rules without waiting for new legislation to pass and take effect,” said Alec Burnside, a partner at Dechert in Brussels. ) Stated that he had worked with the complainant against Google.

He added: “This ruling has injected more oxygen into Vestagg’s response to large-scale technology. The committee’s decision to set a precedent in the shopping case has now been verified.”

Despite this, Raf said that the EU has been too slow to control large technology companies, saying that in the 16 years since Foundem filed its initial competition complaint, Google has not been forced to “end or mitigate its illegal behavior.”

Richard Stables, CEO of the comparison shopping site Kelkoo, stated that it has “lost millions of euros in revenue from this abuse, and we don’t see a small part of it coming back.”

The European Commission said it will “continue to use all the tools at its disposal” to try to solve problems in the market.

Google also faces another 2 billion euro fine for alleged anti-competitive behavior. It was accused of abusing its dominant position in the Android operating system and allegedly forcing users to use its services instead of competitors, and was also fined 1.5 billion euros for blocking competitors in the online advertising market.

These cases occur as the European Parliament and member states are debating how to formulate new technology regulations to hold large technology companies accountable.

European Parliament Member Andreas Schwab, who led the debate on the European Parliament’s Digital Market Bill, said: “The court’s decision proves that the EU is on the right track.

“Unfortunately, we have wasted a lot of time imposing our rules on the gatekeeper. This will soon change with the DMA. In the future, it will become the authority to apply the law again in time — and it won’t be too late. “

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