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EU antitrust proceedings: Google has to pay a fine of 2.4 billion euros

The General Court of the European Union (EGC) has ruled that Alphabet Inc. and Google will have to pay a fine of 2.4 billion euros. The reason is Google’s “position as a search engine through inadmissible preferential treatment of its own price comparison service”. Google can appeal the judgment to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

[Update: 10.11.2021, 12:15 Uhr: Eine marktbeherrschende Stellung sei nicht allein Anlass zur Kritik, schreibt das Gericht in seinem Urteil, selbst wenn das betreffende Unternehmen auf einen benachbarten Markt expandieren wolle. Google habe aber seinen eigenen Preisvergleichsdienst auf seinen allgemeinen Suchergebnisseiten günstiger dargestellt und positioniert als konkurrierende Dienste. Diese seien durch Ranking-Algorithmen zurückgedrängt worden.

Der Wettbewerb habe geschwächt werden können, da Nutzer sich in der Regel auf die ersten Ergebnisse konzentrieren, urteilte das Gericht. Der Effekte habe auch nicht durch andere Mechanismen auf Googles Suchergebnisseiten kompensiert werden können. Dies habe die EU-Kommission mit geeigneten Methoden ermittelt.]

Google and Alphabet had sued the European Commission’s decision. The company believes that Google “by displaying grouped product hits” and “product advertising” did not give preference to its own price comparison service and that a wrongly – incorrectly calculated – fine was imposed.

In June 2017, the EU Commission imposed a record competition fine of 2.4 billion euros on Google for allegedly abusing its dominant position as a search engine in 13 countries in the European Economic Area. The search engine giant preferred its own price comparison service by placing it at the top of search results. Other comparison services had been downgraded as a result.

Because of this, the group had presented its competitors with a compromise offer. The market leader offered them spots on their own website and wanted to allocate them by auction. Shortly before implementing the proposal, however, Google adjusted its compromise offer for shopping searches. Accordingly, the advertising space should not only be offered to competitors. Google wanted to bid itself. Dealers criticized for having to bid against Google and not getting the ad spaces for free.

The judgment of the European Court of Justice is one of a series of competition lawsuits relating to Google’s online advertising services. Before a meeting with other large Internet companies, the search engine provider reportedly stated in a note that it had successfully delayed the EU legislative process for e-privacy rules and that it had worked with other companies to do so. An unredeemed complaint has only recently emerged. The allegation is that Google has abused its supremacy over AdTech processes.

(mack)

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