EU Appeals Court Upholds $2.8B Fine Against Google Over Shopping Comparison Service

A Wednesday ruling of a European Union appellate court handed the European Commission (EC) victory over Alphabet Inc., and Google LLC, finding that the tech titan used its own price comparison shopping service to unfairly disadvantage its smaller European competitors. According to a Reuters article by Francois Aulner and Foo Yun Chee, the General Court’s decision affirmed findings made by the EC, Europe’s antitrust oversight body, when it fined Google in 2017 over the anticompetitive conduct.

“[B]y favouring its own comparison shopping service on its general results pages through more favourable display and positioning, while relegating the results from competing comparison services in those pages by means of ranking algorithms, Google departed from competition on the merits,” the opinion said. 

The General Court also upheld the EC’s findings about the harmful effects on competition. The judgment explained that evidence showed a connection between Google’s conduct and “the overall decrease in traffic from its general results pages to competing comparison shopping services and the significant increase in traffic for its own comparison shopping service.”

In addition, the court overrode Google’s justifications for its unequal treatment of search results. Google failed to demonstrate that efficiency gains would counterbalance the negative effects on competition wrought by its conduct, the court emphasized.

According to Reuters, Google will review the decision before determining whether it will appeal to the court of last resort, the EU Court of Justice. The news outlet also reported that the EC is pursuing the tech giant for its use of data in its digital advertising business. Google is seeking to settle that matter, Reuters reported.