The European Union General Court has upheld a 2017 ruling against Google by the European Commission. The original ruling found that the company broke antitrust law using its search engine. Google was accused of boosting its shopping comparison service while bringing down rival offerings.
Although Google’s parent company, Alphabet, appealed this decision previously, the General Court has now dismissed the appeal, thus upholding a fine of €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion). Alphabet can now appeal this decision with the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The court held that Google broke its antitrust law “by favouring its own comparison shopping service on its general results pages through more favourable display and positioning, while relegating the results from competing comparison services in those pages by means of ranking algorithms.”
The company is facing multiple antitrust cases in the EU
This could also impact Google’s other pending antitrust cases in Europe. The EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, has previously held that U.S. tech firms are violating the region’s antitrust laws.
Google is also facing two other antitrust cases pertaining to Android and AdSense. These cases are currently under appeal.
In 2018, EU antitrust regulators slapped Google with a €4.34 billion fine for allegedly suppressing competition with its search engine. While trying to appeal the ruling, the tech giant criticized regulators for ignoring Apple’s violations of antitrust laws.
“The Commission shut its eyes to the real competitive dynamic in this industry, that between Apple and Android,” Google counsel Meredith Pickford told the General Court a couple of months ago. However, the EU Commission’s lawyer, Nicholas Khan, promptly rejected the allegations, stating that the two companies “pursue different models.”
In May, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) fined Google €102 million for allegedly abusing its market dominance. The agency alleged that Google violated Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
This came after Italian energy company Enel X alleged that it was restricted from launching its JuicePass app for Android Auto (now known as Android Automotive). The JuicePass mobile app lets customers locate nearby charging stations. Google, for its part, said that it “respectfully disagrees” with the AGCM’s ruling.
Google has accrued over €8 billion in EU antitrust fines over the past decade. If recent rulings are any indicator, there could be more on the way.