Google Pleads with EU Court to Overturn $1.6b Antitrust Fine

Google appealed to the European Union’s second-highest court on Monday to junk its $1.6 billion antitrust fine over alleged abuse of dominance in online search advertisements.

The tech company went on a three-day hearing to dispute the European Commission’s accusation of demanding exclusive contracts from websites that accept ads.

Google has operated AdSense, which intermediates between websites and ad buyers, since 2013. The commission said that Google prohibited its competitors from placing any search adverts on its search result pages.

Google lawyer Josh Holmes argued that the company’s AdSense contract has not violated the EU’s antitrust rule on market competition. “The fact that some clients chose to place all of their ads with Google does not show a violation,” Holmes said. 

Google’s team also said that websites could opt for other advertisers if they found the AdSense contract to be burdensome.

The European Commission accused Google in 2019 of imposing restrictive clauses in AdSense contracts with third-party websites. The commission described the AdSense clauses as “anti-competitive.”

In 2017, the commission also fined Google $2.7 billion over antitrust violations. In 2021, the EU court ruled against Alphabet, Google’s parent company, saying the company has abused its online dominance through the illegal promotion of its shopping comparison service over rivals.

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