Google Officially Appeals EU’s Historic Antitrust Fine

September 11, 2017 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

Google on Monday launched an official appeal against the historic antitrust fine given to it by the European Commission in late June. The firm’s case will be taken by the General Court, an entity based in Luxembourg which is also the second largest judicial authority in the political bloc. Some industry watchers are predicting the competent court to rule on the matter no earlier than Q4 2019, though the initial verdict may come at a significantly later date. Antitrust cases are generally a slow affair on the Old Continent, with Intel having just recently won an appeal against its $1.3 billion antitrust fine issued in 2009, with that particular case now being set for a reexamination by a lower court and still being years away from its official conclusion. While Google seemingly has a long battle ahead of it, Intel’s dispute with the antitrust watchdog of the European Commission and the manner in which it has been developing in recent years is generally good news for the Alphabet-owned company which raised some similar points while criticizing the verdict it was hit with, including the Commission’s vague requirements pertaining to the cessation of monopolistic practices.

The Mountain View, California-based tech giant was ordered to pay the equivalent of $2.7 billion for violating the EU’s antitrust laws by abusing the dominant market position of Google Search and manipulating online search results in an effort to promote its shopping and general price comparison service at a direct expense of its competitors. Google dismissed that notion on several occasions in recent months, with its legal representatives presenting the controversial service as an incremental part of the company’s Internet search engine and not a separate product competing in another market. The company’s appeal won’t affect its compliance with the EU’s order to cease all monopolistic behavior by next month for which the firm already submitted a general plan that the competition watchdog previously said it was satisfied with, at least following a preliminary review. Google’s decision to not request an interim suspension order may be seen by the General Court in a positive light given how the Internet giant chose not to fight the EU’s decision in a maximally aggressive manner and has instead approached the appellate procedure in good faith, some industry watchers believe.

Google is still being investigated by the political bloc on two other antitrust fronts pertaining to its possible abuse of the Android operating system and AdWords advertising platform, also with the supposed goal of promoting its other services while actively hurting rivaling offerings. Those two cases should reach their preliminary verdicts in the coming months, presumably no later than the first quarter of 2018.