Google challenges record EU antitrust fine in court

Google was fined by the European Commission for abusing its dominance in Europe by giving prominent placement in ...
MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS

Google was fined by the European Commission for abusing its dominance in Europe by giving prominent placement in searches to its comparison shopping service and demoting rival offerings.

Google appealed on Monday against a record €2.4 billion (NZ$3.96 billion) EU antitrust fine, with its chances of success boosted by Intel's partial victory last week against another EU sanction.

The world's most popular Internet search engine, a unit of the US firm Alphabet, launched its appeal two months after it was fined by the European Commission for abusing its dominance in Europe by giving prominent placement in searches to its comparison shopping service and demoting rival offerings.

The Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe's second-highest, is expected to take several years before ruling on the appeal.

A court spokeswoman said Google had not asked for an interim order to suspend the European Union decision.

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The Commission, which ordered Google to stop the practice by September 28, is reviewing Google's proposal on how it would comply with the EU decision.

The EU competition enforcer will defend its decision in court, a spokesman said.

Lobby group FairSearch, whose members include Google rivals such as British shopping comparison site Foundem and US travel site TripAdvisor, said the EU decision was sound.

"The Commission's decision stands on firm ground, both legally and factually, and we expect the Commission to win on appeal," FairSearch lawyer Thomas Vinje said.

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The EU Court of Justice (ECJ) ordered a lower tribunal last week to re-examine US chipmaker Intel's appeal against a €1.06 billion fine, a rare setback for the Commission.

The Google case differs from Intel's, but the judgment has been welcomed by companies under EU scrutiny because it raises the bar for the regulator to prove wrongdoing.

 - Reuters

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