Google seeks to reverse antitrust fines in EU Court

14 Février, 2020, 04:52 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Google tells EU judges that it was unfairly accused of thwarting rivals of its Shopping service

"The judgement will have repercussions for a large variety of industries that depend on fair ranking of their services on Google Search", he said. Until now, Google has been fined by the EC several times (in total, fines amount to $8.9 billion) and all those cases are related to alleged abuse of power - manipulating shopping results, using Android software to promote its own apps and blocking advertisements from rival search engines to appear on third-party websites.

As many as seven billion daily searches make the USA giant "the front page of the internet", Nicholas Khan, a lawyer for the European Commission told a panel of judges in the opening session of a three-day hearing at the EU General Court in Luxembourg.

So-called multipliers are usually used to increase fines for cartels where companies are found guilty of colluding to cheat customers of suppliers, viewed as an extremely serious offense under European Union antitrust rules.

The EU commission will give testimony alongside complainants who accuse Google of having smothered their business.

Thomas Höppner, a lawyer for three companies fighting Google, argued that the company had abused its overwhelming dominance of the market that, if not stopped, would kill competition dead in all the markets in which the company decides to enter.

In the meantime, Margrethe Vestager in her new beefed-up role as Europe's digital chief will not be idle.

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Vestager, a former Danish finance minister, quickly became known for her relentless pursuit of USA tech giants that drew attention worldwide.

The appeal hearing is to last three days with a decision possible by June. The case can then go to the EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice.

The EU's case mirrors similar litigation against Microsoft, a legal labyrinth that ran throughout most of the 1990s and early 2000s and saw the company fined about €1.4 billion.

EU regulators said this penalty was for Google's favoring its own price comparison shopping service to the disadvantage of smaller European rivals.

Players in other sectors are following the case closely, and hoping that Vestager swoops in on other features such as maps, travel and job ads where Google has yet to face push back from regulators.

The key issue is whether self preferencing is anti-competitive and whether Amazon (AMZN.O) and eBay (EBAY.O) should be counted as Google's rivals.

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