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Google says EU antitrust penalty would be ‘inappropriate’

Author: Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Google responded to a warning from EU antitrust regulators about a possible large fine, saying it would be inappropriate given the unusual nature of the case and its desire to settle the case with concessions last year.

In its response to the European Commission’s April fee sheet, the world’s most popular search engine also accused regulators of failing to take into account the fact that it offers a free search service.

The company’s strong defense comes after a five-year investigation after the Commission accused it of distorting search results in favor of its shopping service, to the detriment of both competitors and users.

The Commission’s statement of objections, known as the statement of objections, states that if Google is found guilty it will “set the fine at a level sufficient to ensure a deterrent effect”. Based on 2014 turnover, this could be as much as $6.6 billion.

According to a redacted version of the response sent to the complainants and seen by Reuters, the company concluded that there were no grounds to impose sanctions.

“It would be inappropriate to impose a penalty in this case. The novelty of the theory of the statement of objections, the selection of the case for commitment negotiations and Google’s good faith in participating in these negotiations militate against the imposition of a penalty,” the document reads. .

Google said it should not be accused of abusing its dominant position in Europe because it provides a free search service.

‘The statement of objections did not take due account of the fact that the search is free of charge. Determining an abuse of a dominant position requires “commercial relations”, which is confirmed by established case law. There is no commercial relationship between Google and its users.”

Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso declined to comment. Google spokesman Al Verney said the company had nothing to add to the comments made in August.

The document also criticized the EU supervisory authority for failing to provide explanations regarding the rejection of the third package of concessions proposed in January.

Third parties have until the end of the month to provide feedback to the Commission before it takes a decision on the case.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by David Evans)