Google appeals €1.49b EU antitrust fine for 'illegal' ad contracts

The European Commission said it will defend its decision in court.

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Google has appealed the European Commission's (EC) €1.49 billion fine for allegedly partaking in advertising practices that breached EU antitrust rules.

First reported by The Telegraph, Google lodged the appeal on late Tuesday to the General Court of the EU.

A Google spokesperson confirmed with ZDNet that an appeal was lodged.  

The €1.49 billion fine was imposed by the EC in March, with the Commission alleging Google had abused its market dominance by imposing a number of restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites that prevented Google's rivals from placing their search ads on these websites.

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Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said in March that Google was fined for the illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market when brokering online search advertisements.

"This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate -- and consumers the benefits of competition," Vestager said at the time.

The EC has already fined Google two times prior. In June 2017, the Commission fined Google €2.42 billion for abusing its dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to Google's own comparison shopping service. Google was then fined €4.34 billion in July last year for using Android mobile devices to strengthen the dominance of Google's search engine.

The latest fine, if successfully enforced, would bring the total amount for fines from the EC to over €8 billion. It would also require Google to remove any remaining restrictions in its existing contracts as well as to "refrain from any measure that has the same or equivalent object or effect".

European authorities are not the only ones putting Google under the microscope, with the US Justice Department reportedly planning an antitrust investigation into Google's conduct. The House Judiciary Committee also commenced on Monday a bipartisan investigation into competition in digital markets.

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