Google loses major appeal in EU case
Google loses major appeal in EU case

As the EU's second largest jurisdiction, the EU's second-largest jurisdiction upheld a 2017 European Commission ruling that Google had violated antitrust rules by using its search engine to promote its search service, compare prices and reduce competitors' results in the service.

Google and its parent company Alphabet have appealed the decision. However, the ordinary court rejected the appeal and upheld a fine of 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion).

The company can now appeal again to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the highest court in the European Union.

This finding is significant because it reinforces the antitrust arguments of influential EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager against US technology companies.

In addition to this comparative buying situation, Google faced two other major antitrust issues related to Android and AdSense in 2018 and 2019.

Those cases are now under appeal, similar to the ones the company lost on Google Shopping.

Key to Vestager's legal arguments in these and other antitrust actions is the concept of subjective preference - that is, a company like Google can violate antitrust laws by using its dominance in one market to achieve success in another. .

Subjective preference per se does not violate EU antitrust law. But its potential adverse effects, such as disrupting products that are better than competitors, are harmful.

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In its ruling, the EU Court stated that it saw sufficient evidence that Google's actions were malicious.

She explained that the company is more inclined to compare purchases on its public results pages by displaying and ranking the most relevant services, with ranking algorithms used to separate results from competitive comparison services on those pages. In doing so, it violates the anti-monopoly law. .

And because self-preference is common in the tech world. This ruling reinforces other anti-trust arguments in the EU.

The case also shows that the EU's capacity to deal with cartel cases in the science and technology sector is very limited.

The first complaint in this case was filed in 2009, more than ten years ago. If the company decides to go to the European Court of Justice, the new ruling may not be final.

In response to the 2017 decision, the company changed its business model. This allows competitors to submit offers to be displayed in their shopping search results. However, competitors said that it represented a new source of revenue for the company, but it did not affect Google's core functions.

Defenders of EU antitrust law are turning their attention to the next major EU law proposal aimed at fair competition with US tech companies, known as the Digital Market Act (DMA).

The law was proposed by the European Commission in December 2020. It forces technology platforms to make more concessions to smaller competitors.

But the EU lawmaker has also called for dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA). It will be implemented in 2023 at the earliest.

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