European Commission: The European Commission fined Google €2.42 billion for abusing dominance as search engine by giving illegal advantage to own comparison shopping service. The fine is calculated taking in account the duration and gravity of the infringement and in accordance with the Commission’s 2006 Guidelines on fines.
The Commission opened proceedings in November 2010, following a number of complaints by European and US competitors. Various attempts to reach a conclusion by means of commitments failed. This led to two Statement of Objections, they set out the Commission’s preliminary conclusions and a range of additional evidence.
The Commission investigated Google’s market position in general internet search since 2008, and found Google to be dominant in each country since 2008. The Commission noted that “Market dominance is, as such, not illegal under EU antitrust rules. However, dominant companies have a special responsibility not to abuse their powerful market position”. Google has abused its market dominance in general internet search by giving a separate Google product (Google Shopping) an illegal advantage in the separate comparison shopping market. This it has done by giving prominent placement to its own comparison shopping service and demotions to rival comparison shopping services.
The Commission also pointed out that the “decision does not object to the design of Google’s generic search algorithms or to demotions as such, nor to the way that Google displays or organizes its search results pages. It objects to the fact that Google has leveraged its market dominance in general internet search into a separate market, comparison shopping.”
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives. That’s a good thing. But Google’s strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals. Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors. What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”
Under the decision, Google must stop its illegal practices concerning its own comparison shopping service within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. It has to respect the simple principle of equal treatment.