Preiskel & Co’s Tim Cowen has been quoted by various media sources, including Bloomberg, discussing the impact of an EU fine and potential non-discrimination obligation before the Commission’s announcement on Tuesday.
As predicted, the EU has issued Google with a record fine of €2.42 billion. However, with a reported $92 billion “cash hoard”, Google may be less concerned by the amount than might first appear to be the case with such a large fine. It should be recalled that during the seven-year investigation, Google continued to profit from any antitrust infringement.
Perhaps more interesting is the order to end the infringement within 90 days, or face penalty payments of 5% of Google’s parent company, Alphabet’s average daily worldwide turnover. Moreover, competitors who have been harmed by Google’s practices may now start preparing to take follow-on damages claims.
It’s clear the Commission wants to set a precedent and change Google’s behaviour, and with further investigations ongoing with regard to online search advertising and Android, Google could adapt its business and comply with the law.
The Commission is keen to look at other markets in which similar manipulation of presentation and display may have been occurring. This could change Google’s presentation and display of search results, both for online shopping, and in many other markets in different ways, which may or may not be commercially valuable.
These changes are of critical importance to online businesses, online advertisers, or businesses generally, given Google’s position in the market, and deserve close scrutiny.
Please do not hesitate to contact Tim Cowen for further information and advice.