In 2017, the European Commission fined Google for an antitrust breach. According to the Commission, Google favored its own shopping services against its competitors and it fined Google 2.42 billion euro ($2.8 billion) for the breach. However, Google went to the EU’s second-highest court, the General Court, and contested the claims.
The General Court on Wednesday ruled that the European Commission was, in fact, right to fine the Alphabet-owned company. According to a press release (PDF), the court says:
“The General Court finds that, by favoring its own comparison shopping service on its general results pages through more favorable 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 General Court concludes its analysis by finding that the amount of the pecuniary penalty imposed on Google must be confirmed.”
If Google wants to compete for this claim as well, it can go to the European Court of Justice, which is the EU’s highest court. In an email to CNBC, a spokesperson from the European Commission said “Today’s judgment delivers the clear message that Google’s conduct was unlawful and it provides the necessary legal clarity for the market. The Commission will continue to use all tools at its disposal to address the role of big digital platforms on which businesses and users depend to, respectively, access end-users and access digital services.”
Defending its stance, a spokesperson from Google told CNBC that the judgment relates to a very specific set of facts. While Google made changes in 2017 in order to comply with the decision, the company will closely review the decision.
The EU Commission also launched an official probe over Google’s ad serving practices in June 2021. The Commission said that it was concerned Google has made it harder for online advertising to compete. A level playing field is of the essence for everyone while fair competition is also important, said the Commission.