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Google makes last-ditch effort to overturn $2.6 billion EU antitrust fine

Google makes last-ditch effort to overturn .6 billion EU antitrust fine


Reuters API


September 19, 2023

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Alphabet’s Google on Tuesday made a last-ditch effort before Europe’s top court to overturn a 2.42 billion euro ($2.6 billion) EU antitrust fine imposed for market abuse related to its shopping service, saying it regulators did not demonstrate that their practices were anticompetitive.


Google appealed to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) after the General Court in 2021 dismissed its challenge to the fine imposed by EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager in 2017.

It was the first of three sanctions for anticompetitive practices that have cost Google 8.25 billion euros in total in the last decade.

Google lawyer Thomas Graf said the European Commission had not shown that the company’s different treatment of its rivals was abusive and that the different treatment alone was not anti-competitive.
“Companies do not compete by treating their competitors in the same way as themselves. They compete by treating them differently. The objective of competition is for a company to differentiate itself from its rivals. Not to align itself with its rivals so that they are all the same” , he told the panel of 15 judges.

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“Calling every different treatment, and in particular different treatment between first-party and third-party companies, as abusive would undermine competition. It would harm companies’ ability and incentives to compete and innovate,” Graf said.

Commission lawyer Fernando Castillo de la Torre dismissed Google’s arguments, saying the company had used its algorithms to unfairly favor its price comparison service, in violation of EU antitrust laws.

“Google had the right to apply algorithms that reduce the visibility of certain results that were less relevant to a user’s query,” he said.

“What Google had no right to do was use its dominance in general search to expand its position on comparative shopping by promoting the results of its own services, embellishing them with attractive features and applying algorithms that tend to reduce the results of rivals and show those unattractive results,” he said.

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The CJEU will rule in the coming months.

This case and two others involving the Android mobile operating system and the AdSense advertising service pale in comparison to the EU’s ongoing antitrust case over Google’s lucrative digital advertising business, where regulators threatened in June to break up the company. .

© Thomson Reuters 2023 All rights reserved.



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