Tech

Google loses appeal of the ruling against its shopping service

The second European court has dismissed Google’s appeal against the sentence that imposed a fine of 2.4 billion euros for breach of European antitrust rules and specifically, for abuse of a dominant position in its online shopping service. Google will still have the possibility of another appeal to the European Court of Justice.

If you remember, in June 2017 the European Commission at the proposal of the head of competition, Margrethe Vestager, imposed a millionaire sanction on Google for use your search engine (the most popular -by far- in Europe as in the whole world) to favor your own price comparison service, giving you «an unfair advantage»Against smaller European rivals:

«Google has launched many innovative products and services, which have made a difference in our lives. That is good. But this strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than its rivals. Instead, Google has abused its dominance position in the search engine market to promote its own comparison shopping service in its search results, downgrading that of its competitors.«, Vestager commented in the announcement of the sanction.

The Google Shopping case was the first of a trio of decisions in which the Internet giant racked up a total of € 8.25 billion in EU antitrust fines in the last decade, in the Android and AdSense cases that are under appeal. Subsequently, Vestager faced Amazon, Apple and Facebook with other lawsuits whose investigations are still ongoing.

Google loses appeal, but the case continues

Google then carried out a series of changes to your shopping service, but appealed the sentence explaining that, «Shopping ads have always helped people find the products they are looking for quickly and easily, and have helped merchants reach potential customers in an approach that has worked successfully, generating billions of clicks for more than 700 price comparison services ».

The arguments have not convinced the European court, the second-highest in the EU, to confirm the previous sentence and its proposals: «Google favored its own price comparison service on its general results pages through more favorable display and positioning, while relegating the results of competitor comparison services on those pages by means of ranking algorithms.«Says the court.

Google can still make a final appeal to the highest European court. This case shows the extreme limitations of the EU in tackling antitrust cases in the tech world as it must be remembered that the original complaint that led to this case was filed in 2009. Between the slow decision-making process and the perception of inadequacy of Google’s changes by its rivals, many wonder about the meaning of these sentences, even if the sanctions are multimillion-dollar.

And not just Google. The EU has dozens of investigations underway against US tech for various reasons, accused of avoiding taxes, stifling competition, “stealing” media content or even “threatening democracy” by spreading fake news. On the issue of competition, the Union is working on a Digital Markets Act (DMA) standard to level the playing field against the giants coming from the other side of the pond. We will see.

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