There have been a steady stream of reports over the past several months that the EU was preparing to fine Google for alleged search market abuses.  Well, all the news of this fine is getting louder, as the fine will reportedly be around on billion euros (41.17 billion).

It’s the authority of the EU to be able to fine the company up to 10 percent of its gross earnings, which would equal about $9 billion.

This fine is being imposed for Google’s alleged abuses in shoppng search.  The original US Statement of Objections (antitrust charges) claims, among other things, that:

  • Google systematically positions and prominently displays its comparison shopping service in its general search results pages, irrespective of its merits.
  • Google does not apply to its own comparison shopping service the system of penalties which it applies to other comparison shopping services on the basis of defined parameters, and which can lead to the lowering of the rank in which they appear in Google’s general search results pages.
  • As a result of Google’s systematic favouring of its subsequent comparison shopping services, Google Product Search and Google Shopping, both experienced higher rates of growth, to the detriment of rival comparison shopping services.

The case seems to be acting as a template for other areas in search that similarly show Google results at the top of the page.  Also, it’s the first of three active antitrust matters that the EU is pursuing against Google.  The other two involve exclusivity provisions in Google AdWords agreements and Android-OEM contracts, which carry fines as else.

Google has vigorously argued in contrast that its practices benefit consumers:

Google has always worked to improve its services, creating new ways to provide better answers and show more useful ads. We’ve taken seriously the concerns in the European Commission’s Statement of Objections (SO) that our innovations are anti-competitive. The response we filed today shows why we believe those allegations are incorrect, and why we believe that Google increases choice for European consumers and offers valuable opportunities for businesses of all sizes.

For the last few ears, the EU and Google have been working to settle the case, and more than one tentative settlement was reached.  But, former European Commission competition czar Joaquin Almunia wasn’t able to win approval for the negotiated agreements.  Margrethe Vestager, Almunia’s successor, has been much tougher.

Assuming the fine will be imposed, Google will probably decide to appeal to the European Court of Justice.

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