Google Begins Legal Battle With EU Over $9B Fines

Google will begin a key legal battle with the European Commission this week when its lawyers appeal against a €2.4bn ($2b) fine, the first of a trio of penalties which could cost the company $9b in total, reported Bloomberg.
The search giant has been handed three different fines by the EU since 2017 over allegations that it favoured its own shopping results over results from rivals, that its Android software unfairly promoted its own apps, and that it blocked adverts from rival search engines.
The EU’s General Court in Luxembourg will host a three-day hearing starting on Feb. 12 as the Alphabet unit seeks to topple a 2.4 billion-euro ($2.6 billion) penalty in 2017 for thwarting smaller shopping search services.
Lawyers say the court clash will help set the scene for a broader crackdown on US tech giants by Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner. Apple is separately battling her massive back-tax order and Inc. is currently being investigated for potentially favoring its own products over those of third-party sellers on its platform.
EU regulators will be hoping to repeat a 2007 victory against Microsoft Corp., a narrow win in a contentious investigation that led the company to settle another probe into web browsers, reported Bloomberg. The Microsoft case emboldened the EU’s small team of antitrust watchdogs to take on the likes of Intel, Qualcomm and in 2010 to pick up complaints against Google.
Defeat for the EU “will be a blow to its attempt for a new enforcement approach in the high tech sector,” said Ioannis Kokkoris, a law and economics professor at Queen Mary University in London. “It will make it think twice how it can bring a successful case against conducts that are not clear cut in markets that are rapidly changing.”