Google Shopping at the General Court – a decision without teeth

Some consideration on the ”fresh” (so-to-speak, for a case initiated in 2009) Google Shopping case at the General Court of the European Union, which ”largely dismisses” the request for annulment lodged by Google – but not all of it.

Due to the fact that it is the first decision in the Big Tech competition saga, the General Court should have been sensitive in incentivising the European Commission with an upholding of its decision.

Second, the practical effects of the decision are practically inexistent, because Google no longer uses this business model. Here the European Commission has some food for thought why it is not able to process an analysis of a market behaviour before that behaviour is abandoned, due to technological evolutions.

Third, the most important part, which refers to a market where the behaviour is still in existence, is quashed by the General Court: ”the General Court considers that the Commission did not establish that Google’s conduct had had – even potential – anticompetitive effects on the market for general search services and therefore annuls the finding of an infringement in respect of that market alone.”

As a preliminary conclusion, the decision is without teeth with respect to Google and the tough stance of the European Commission on the Big Tech is not endorsed by the ECJ, which starts its reasoning by stating that: ”the General Court considers that an undertaking’s dominant position alone, even one on the scale of Google’s, is not a ground of criticism of the undertaking concerned, even if it is planning to expand into a neighbouring market.” So, not any blanket prohibition to the platforms to expanding into new markets or even a presumption that such a move might have negative repercussions.

To be continued.

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