Preliminary Comments on the Google Case: Bridging the Transatlantic Digital Divide by Widening the Antitrust One.
On June 27 2017, the EU Commission issued the much-awaited press release and factsheet announcing it fined Google for abusing its dominant position on the market for online search engines. The decision has been adopted after a nearly decade-long procedure, investigating, inter alia, how search results are displayed by Google to its customers. This is the first pillar of the so-called Google saga, in the context of which the Commission sent to such US-based company other statements of objections (hereinafter, “SO”) involving also Android and AdSense.
The (alleged) violation of Article 102 TFEU occurred because Google has given to its own vertical search engine (i.e., Google Shopping) an illegal and anticompetitive advantage vis-à-vis its competitors on the separate but connected market of comparison shopping services, i.e. those online services used to filter and compare specific products (goods, hotels, restaurants, flights, etc.) based on parameters such as price, features, locations, reviews etc. To be sure, the case does not concern the so-called organic search results, let alone their manipulation, within the market for general online search engines, i.e. Google’s core business.