Google will hit back at the EU over its €2.4bn antitrust fine tomorrow: Here's what you need to know

Emma Haslett
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Google will hit back at the fine tomorrow, reports suggested (Source: Getty)

Google is getting ready to extend its already-lengthy dispute with the European Union over a record €2.4bn (£2.2bn) fine next week, according to reports.

Back in June, the tech goliath was hit with a massive fine over the way it orders its shopping comparison search results. Now reports have suggested a victory by Intel last week has encouraged it to appeal the fine, with papers likely to be filed tomorrow.

Here's what you need to know.

Tell me about the original fine...

At the end of June, European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager hit Alphabet, Google's parent company, with the largest penalty ever issued by the EU in an antitrust case, after rivals including Microsoft, Yelp and Tripadvisor complained it prioritises its own price comparison search results over their own.

Vestager ruled Google's actions were anti-competitive, and ordered it to end those practices within 90 days or risk a further penalty which could be as much as five per cent of Alphabet's average daily worldwide earnings.

"What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules," she said.

"It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation."

What does Intel have to do with it?

Last week Intel won a decade-long dispute with the EU after the European Court of Justice referred a €1bn antitrust fine, handed out in 2009 over allegations the chipmaker had abused its dominant position in the market, back to a lower court to be reviewed.

The court ruled the general court had "failed in its analysis of whether the rebates at issue were capable of restricting competition".

What does that mean for Google?

Although at the end of August Google gave all the signs it was planning to comply with the antitrust order, outlining its plans to stop favouring its own shopping services in documents submitted to the EU, a report in The Telegraph today suggested the triumph had emboldened it to hit back against the ruling before tomorrow, its deadline to submit an appeal. That means the seven-year fight between Google and the EU will be extended even further.

What do experts think?

Last week Assimakis Komninos, a partner at law firm White & Case, said the Intel case should provide encouragement to other US tech companies.

"[It] indicates a certain relaxation of the formalistic case law on abuse of dominance," he said.

"This is particularly encouraging for other big companies facing competition investigations. While the Intel case is about rebates, all major corporates being investigated by the European Commission can take this as a positive sign."

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