The General Court of the EU has dismissed Google's appeal on Wednesday and maintains the fine of 2.4 billion euros imposed by the European Commission in 2017 for abuse of a dominant position in its shopping comparator service.
The decision is a joy but above all an air balloon for Vice President Margrethe Vestager, who in recent months has received some important setbacks that had put her way of working in question.
The case dates back to the summer of 2017, when Vestager announced that historical fine of 2,424 million for Google and its parent Alphabet, the highest until then, after considering it proven that it abused its dominant position up to 13 countries in the European Economic Area. The investigation proved that the company was illegally promoting its own comparison shopping service in search results, harming those of its competitors. "It has denied other companies the opportunity to compete on their merits and to innovate. And more importantly, it has denied European consumers the genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation," the Danish policy said at the time.
A year later, the Commission would punish Google with another fine of 4.34 billion for imposing
and restrictions on manufacturers and operators in the so-called Android Case.
Google and Alphabet appealed the decision and today the CJEU has almost completely dismissed their arguments. In the ruling, the magistrates explain that having a dominant position "even one on Google's scale" is not a problem in itself, not even if it plans to expand to a neighboring market. "However, the General Court concludes that, by favoring its own price comparison service on its general results pages through more favorable display and positioning, while relegating the results of the competitive comparison services on those pages using algorithms ranking, Google stepped away from the competition on its merits. "
The High Court, in line with the Commission, considers that it is proven that "Google favors its own price comparison service over the services of the competition, instead of a better result over another result" and that this is not compatible with the Community legislation. The General Court notes that even if the results of the competitor's price comparison services were more relevant, "they could never receive the same treatment as the results of Google's price comparison service in terms of their positioning or display. While Google subsequently enabled competitor's price comparison services to improve the quality of the display of their results by appearing in their 'boxes' in exchange for payment, the General Court notes that
that service depended on the price comparison services changing their business model and ceasing to be direct competitors of Google
, becoming its customers ", something not acceptable.
The TGUE rejects most of the arguments of Google, which defends its model and ensures that competition in the price comparison sector is strong and, however, the General Court considers that the Commission has not demonstrated "that the conduct Google would have had anti-competitive effects on the general search services market, not even potential ones, and therefore nullifies the infringement with respect to that market only. "
The company now has two months to appeal to the Union Court of Justice.
The process, if produced, would take months at best.
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