Internet search giant Google has gone to court to appeal the first of a series of multi-billion dollar fines issued by the European Commission.
Google's parent company Alphabet Inc. was due to argue its case at the General Court in Luxembourg today, to appeal against a €2.4 billion ($2.6 billion) fine received in 2017 for breaching EU antitrust rules. At the time, Google was issued the penalty for abusing its market dominance to block competing shopping services from reaching the top of the search ranks, instead giving preference to its own comparison shopping service.
In addition to this, Google was slapped with a further €5.8 billion ($6.3 billion) in two separate fines, both for breaching EU antitrust rules. The first of these was a record €4.3 billion ($4.6 billion) fine for imposing conditions on Android device manufacturers in order to drive traffic to its search engine, whereas its most recent was a fine to the tune of €1.7 billion ($1.9 billion) for violations relating to its advertising business, known as AdSense.
In total, Google has been fined more than €8 billion ($8.7 billion) in three separate cases since 2017—all of which the search giant has appealed.
The case, known as T-612/17 Google and Alphabet v Commission will last three days, and will see both Alphabet and the European Commission lay out their arguments in front of a panel of five judges.
“Competition law does not require Google to hold back innovation or compromise its quality to accommodate rivals. Otherwise, competition would be restricted and innovation would be stifled,” said Thomas Graf, one of the lawyers representing Google on the case.
Google also made the claim that self-preferencing is a new principle in competition law, and there is no legal basis to put forward a €2.4 billion ($2.6 billion) fine on the back of this principle.
Although the case is already being heard at court, it is unlikely that a final ruling will be made until sometime next year. If Google is unsuccessful in this case, then it still has the opportunity to appeal again at the European Court of Justice.
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