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Google loses appeal against €2.4bn shopping fineCourt ruling marks first big victory for competition

The General Court of Luxembourg has dismissed Google’s appeal against a 2017 antitrust fine © Reuters

Google has lost an appeal against a landmark €2.42bn European antitrust decision that ruled the tech giant had abused its position to the detriment of rivals to its shopping service.

The General Court of Luxembourg on Wednesday dismissed Google’s legal challenge against the EU’s 2017 decision, marking a big victory for competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s antitrust enforcement.

The ruling, which is likely to be appealed, marks the first time a European court has ruled on an antitrust case against Google.

Google said the judgment relates to a “very specific set of facts” and that it made changes in 2017 to comply with the European Commission’s decision.

Brussels fined Google after a seven year investigation concluded that the company was abusing its dominance in search by giving “illegal advantage” to its own shopping service.

At the time Vestager said Google had “denied other companies the right to compete”. Google has since denied allegations of breaking EU law.

Shivaun Raff, co-founder of now-defunct rival search engine Foundem, the original plaintiff in the EU’s Google search probe, welcomed the court’s decision. “While we welcome today’s judgment, it does not undo the considerable consumer and anti-competitive harm caused by more than a decade of Google’s insidious search manipulation practices,” she said.

Google is also contesting another two multibillion-euro fines for alleged anti-competitive behaviour. It has been accused of abusing its dominance in the Android operating system and allegedly forcing users to use its services over rivals, and was hit with a €1.5bn fine for blocking competitors in the online ad market.

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