Google starts appeal against £2bn shopping fine

BBC Technology 12 Feb 2020 12:29
By Jane Wakefield Technology reporter
Google ShoppingImage copyright Google

Google's appeal against a huge fine imposed by the European Commission over its alleged abuse of power in promoting its own shopping comparison service will be heard over the next three days.

The hearing will take place at the General Court in Luxembourg.

The €2.4bn ($2.6bn; £2bn) fine was handed out in 2017 and the search giant has always vowed to fight it.

It argues that the case has no legal or economic merit.

In a statement to the BBC, Google said: "We're appealing [against] the European Commission's 2017 Google Shopping decision because it is wrong on the law, the facts, and the economics. Shopping ads have always helped people find the products they are looking for quickly and easily, and helped merchants to reach potential customers.

"We look forward to making our case in court and demonstrating that we have improved quality and increased choice for consumers."

The BBC understands the tech giant will argue that it fulfilled its legal obligations to allow rivals access to its products.

In order to comply with the EC's ruling, Google changed the shopping box displayed at the top of search results. It now shows its own ad results but also gives space to other shopping comparison services, which can bid for advertising slots.

Foundem, the lead complainant in the case, filed its complaint against Google back in 2009.

"We believe in the merits of the shopping decision and its potential to deliver a fairer market for European consumers and businesses. At the same time, we continue to call for a remedy which tackles the harm caused by Google's abuse and we will endeavour to work closely with the Commission in the coming months to make this happen."

Google has amassed fines of €8.2bn from the EC in the last three years, all relating to alleged abuses of power.

Along with other tech giants like Facebook, Amazon and Apple, it also now faces anti-trust investigations in the US.

It is expected that the court will deliver its judgement in the second half of the year.

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