Google loses key court fight over EU antitrust shopping fine

Google’s fight to have a fine overturned is not going to plan.

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Google lost a key battle in its fight to have a multi-billion dollar antitrust fine overturned in Europe on Wednesday. 

Back in 2017, regulators slapped Google with a 2.42 billion euro ($2.8 billion) fine for favoring its own shopping services in its search results over those of rivals. Google appealed the fine, but the EU General Court in Luxembourg has now ruled to uphold the decision.

“By 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 court said in the ruling.

The fine is one of several handed out that the EU’s Competition Commission has handed out to Google over the past few years for abusing its dominant position in Europe. When it was announced in 2017, it was at the time the largest penalty handed out by the Commission and was twice as big as predicted. It retained this title until the Commission fined Google over $5BN the following year for Android abuses.

The court’s decision this week is a win for Europe as it seeks to more closely regulate tech companies — including US tech giants that operate within the region. It arrives during a greater global move to ensure tech companies are held accountable, pay their fair share of taxes and don’t violate existing competition or privacy laws.

“Shopping ads have always helped people find the products they are looking for quickly and easily, and helped merchants to reach potential customers,” said a spokesman for Google in a statement on Wednesday. “This judgement relates to a very specific set of facts and while we will review it closely, we made changes back in 2017 to comply with the European Commission’s decision. Our approach has worked successfully for more than three years, generating billions of clicks for more than 700 comparison shopping services.”

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