Google has lost an appeal against an antitrust ruling in the European Union and will now be required to pay a fine of €2.42 billion for abusing its market dominance.
The court also confirmed that Google is a utility and needs to behave as such. "A general search engine is infrastructure that is, in principle, open, the rationale and value of which lie [sic] in its capacity to be open to results from external (third-party) sources and to display those sources, which enrich and enhance the credibility of the search engine."
Three specific aspects of the case were called out;
- The importance of the traffic generated by Google’s general search engine for comparison shopping services;
- The behaviour of users, who typically concentrate on the first few results;
- And the large proportion of ‘diverted’ traffic in the traffic of comparison shopping services and the fact that it cannot be effected.
According to a statement from the court, it found, "that Google had abused its dominant position on the market for online general search services in 13 countries in the European Economic Area, by favouring its own comparison shopping service, a specialised search service, over competing comparison shopping services."
Further more, the commissions said that the results of product searches made using Google’s general search engine were positioned and displayed "in a more eye-catching manner when the results came from Google’s own comparison shopping service than when they came from competing comparison shopping services."
"Moreover, the latter results, which appeared as simple generic results (displayed in the form of blue links), were accordingly, unlike results from Google’s comparison shopping service, prone to being demoted by adjustment algorithms in Google’s general results pages."