Google Appeal Seeks to Overturn $2.9 Billion EU Antitrust Fine

The European Union General Court will review Google's appeal of a $2.9 billion antitrust fine that was assessed because regulators found that the company's comparison shopping

Google EU Antitrust Appeal

As expected, Google has appealed the massive $2.9 billion ( antitrust fine that European Union regulators imposed on the company this June.

The EU General Court will review the appeal, but it's not expected to issue a ruling for at least the next 18 to 24 months.

Reuters was the first to report on the appeal Monday. A Google spokesman separately confirmed it with eWEEK. No other details are currently available on Google's arguments in its  appeal.

EU regulators fined Google on claims that it abused its dominance in the Internet search pace to promote the firm's own comparative shopping service site over that of others.

Operators of multiple online shopping sites had claimed that when users search for specific products on Google Search, the results would be dominated by links to products that companies had paid to advertise on Google Shopping.

The complaints had noted that the manner in which Google ranked results for product searches robbed other online shopping sites of traffic and favored paid ads over more relevant and organic results.

In announcing the fine, the EU's commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager said Google's practice of playing up its own service denied rivals the chance to compete on innovation and merits. It also denied EU consumers freedom of choice and the full benefits of real online comparison-shopping, Vestager claimed.

The ruling gave Google 90 days to change the manner in which it displays results for product searches conducted by users in the EU or risk facing additional fines.

Google has disagreed with the EUs decision and noted that its results for product related searches are presented in a manner that makes most sense for users. The company has claimed that its practice of highlighting ads in shopping results gives online users a way to find products they are looking for more quickly. Shopping ads also give advertisers a better way to promote their products in search results in ways that are beneficial to users as well as to advertisers, Google has previously noted.

Despite disagreeing with the decision, Google has already provided EU regulators with its plans to ensure that all comparative shopping sites are treated more equally when people conduct product searches. Neither the company, nor regulators have disclosed Google's plans to comply with the EU's call for changes until the appeal works its way through the EU court system.

Besides the dispute over Google Shopping, the EU is also investigating complaints that Google's bundling requirements for Android handset makers is unfair and makes it much harder for third-party software developer to get apps pre-installed on Android devices.

Android software makers have claimed that Google requires Android device makers to pre-install a whole suite of apps if they want to install only Google Play on their devices. They have described the practice as unfair because it effectively blocks independent software developers from gaining access to the Android market.

Separately, the EU is also investigating whether Google's requirements for customers of its Adsense advertising platform prohibits them from sourcing advertisements from rival platforms.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.