The European Union’s General Court in Luxembourg has upheld (PDF) the European Commission’s decision to slap Google with a record €2.42 billion (US$2.8 billion) fine for an antitrust case back in 2017. Back then, the commission decided after a lengthy investigation that the tech giant favored its own comparison shopping services and unfairly directed users to its own products over those of its rivals’. That $2.8 billion fine is just a tiny fraction of Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) $2 trillion valuation, but it was the biggest financial penalty the commission has ever handed out.
The court said in a statement:
“The General Court finds that, by favoring its own comparison shopping service on its general results pages through more favorable display and positioning, while relegating the results from competing comparison services in those pages by means of ranking algorithms, Google departed from competition on the merits.”
While the General Court mostly sided with the commission’s findings that Google’s actions had harmful effects on comparison shopping, it disagreed with one element of the EU’s case. As The Wall Street Journal noted, it said that regulators weren’t able to prove that the company’s conduct harmed competition among general search engines.
Back when it appealed the EU’s decision, Google argued that the commission ignored the competition it faces in the e-commerce sector from Amazon. The company could appeal the General Court’s decision yet again by taking the case to the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice. A spokesperson told The Journal, however, that the company will still have to review the judgment more closely before deciding whether to file another appeal.
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