Google appeals US$2.9 billion EU antitrust fine

Just days after Intel won a court victory in its attempts to overturn an EU antitrust fine, Google has decided to challenge its own record-breaking fine

Credit: Magdalena Petrova

Google has decided to appeal the record-breaking fine imposed on it by the European Union's highest antitrust authority in July. 

The European Commission fined the company €2.4 billion (US$2.9 billion) to punish it for abusing its dominant position in the search engine market to illegally promote its comparison shopping service.

Now, Google has filed an appeal with the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg. The company declined to give further details of its appeal.

Google may have been emboldened by Intel's recent success in appealing a €1.06 billion antitrust fine -- the previous EU record -- imposed by the Commission in 2009.

In its case, Intel was fined for paying rebates to PC makers and a retailer that agreed to buy x86 chips exclusively or almost exclusively from Intel, to the detriment of its competitors in the PC processor market.

Intel lost its first appeal, but persisted, and on Wednesday the case was referred back to the court that had rejected it with the instruction to allow Intel to challenge more of the evidence against it.

For its part, Google was found guilty of misusing its search engine to promote another service, "Google Shopping", previously known as Google Product Search and Froogle, causing traffic drops of up to 90 percent for its competitors. 

It took Intel the best part of eight years to obtain Wednesday's judgement, and the case isn't over yet, so Google is likely have a long legal battle ahead of it.

Meanwhile, it's still under investigation by the European Commission, accused of other breaches of EU antitrust law. These concern the contracts for its AdSense advertising service and the licensing of its Android mobile phone operating system. 

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Peter Sayer

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