Google Calls For Dismissal Of £1.25bn EU Antitrust Fine


Google begins laying out arguments in Luxembourg’s General Court calling for the dismissal of a £1.25bn EU antitrust fine over its advertising practices

Google has laid out its initial arguments in an EU court urging the dismissal of a 1.49bn euro (£1.25bn) fine imposed by European regulators in 2019 over alleged antitrust abuses in online search advertising.

The fine was the third large penalty imposed on Google by the European Commission in the space of two years, adding up to a total of 8.25bn euros.

The Commission said at the time Google had abused its online search and advertising dominance to prevent websites from using platforms other than its own AdSense platform to provide search adverts.

The abuses lasted from 2006 to 2016, the Commission said.

The Court of Justice of the European Union. Credit: CJEU google
The Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg. ECJ

Advertising practices

The search giant challenged the finding in the Luxembourg-based General Court and is to set out its case over a three-day hearing beginning Monday.

In an initial court document Google said the Commission’s assessment of the company’s market dominance and its decision that search ads and non-search ads do not compete were wrong, Reuters reported.

The company also contested the Commission’s finding that its exclusivity, premium placement and minimum Google ads clauses were abusive.

Google last year lost a court battle against a 2.42bn-euro antitrust decision imposed in 2017 over the use of its own price comparison shopping service to gain an unfair advantage over smaller European rivals.

The General Court last November said it upheld the fine, adding that Google had abused its dominant position in 13 countries in the European Economic Area to unfairly favour its own shopping service.

Record fines

“The Commission found that the results of product searches made using Google’s general search engine were positioned and displayed in a more eye-catching manner when the results came from Google’s own comparison shopping service than when they came from competing comparison shopping services,” the court said at the time.

“Moreover, the latter results, which appeared as simple generic results (displayed in the form of blue links), were accordingly, unlike results from Google’s comparison shopping service, prone to being demoted by adjustment algorithms in Google’s general results pages.”

The third fine, levied in July 2018, fined Google a record 4.43bn euros for commercial practices related to its Android mobile operating system.