Search giant Google will begin its appeal against a massive fine levied upon it by the European Commission in the coming days. The appeal will be held before the General Court in Luxembourg.
The EC issued the fine of 2.42 billion euro in 2017 after finding that ” Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service.” In its press release announcing the fine, the EC recounted the history of Google’s comparison shopping product. The service launched (in Europe) as Froogle in 2004, and evolved through a variety of incarnations into Google Shopping today.
The Commission found that, in response to floundering performance in a crowded market, Google began to ” systematically [gave] prominent placement to its own comparison shopping service” and ” demoted rival comparison shopping services in its search results.” Under EU antitrust law, market dominance is not itself forbidden, but “dominant companies have a special responsibility not to abuse their powerful market position by restricting competition.”
Representatives from Google told the BBC that ” We’re appealing the European Commission’s 2017 Google Shopping decision because it is wrong on the law, the facts, and the economics.” The BBC reported that Google is expected to “argue that the EC excluded key players such as Amazon from its investigation. It will claim the online role of comparison shopping services has diminished, largely because platforms such as Amazon have become the preferred place to look for products and compare prices.”
The underlying complaint was filed in 2009 by Foundem. Attempting to access Foundem’s services redirects the user to a notice explaining that is has suspended operations as of 2016 pending the resolution of the case. A section of the notice marked as a 2018 update added that ” We are now working to ensure that Google complies with the equal treatment remedy set out in the Commission’s Prohibition Decision, thereby restoring the level playing field required for competition and innovation to thrive. Regrettably, Google’s current proposal is both ineffective and brazenly non-compliant. “