Google lost an appeal in General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg on Wednesday (Nov. 10) related to a 2017 decision by the European Commission (EC) that fined the tech giant $2.8 billion for directing users to its own comparison-shopping ads over those of rivals, according to a court press release.
The EC found in 2017 that Google had abused its dominant position for online general search services in 13 countries in the European Economic Area by favoring its own comparison shopping services.
“… 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 court stated.
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The fine levied on Google was the first of three that were handed down by EC Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, the region’s highest-level antitrust enforcer.
“Shopping ads have always helped people find the products they are looking for quickly and easily, and helped merchants to reach potential customers,” Google said in a statement. “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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Google has the option of appealing the decision to the European Court of Justice, which is the EU’s highest court. The case is being eyed as setting a possible precedent as other investigations against U.S. tech giants — Amazon, Apple, and Facebook — are underway and also being appealed.
“While we welcome today’s judgment, it does not undo the considerable consumer and anti-competitive harm caused by more than a decade of Google’s insidious search manipulation practices,” Shivaun Raff, CEO and co-founder of Foundem, a comparison shopping service in Europe, said in a statement. Foundem was part of the effort to bring the original complaint against Google.