Google has a new billion-dollar lawsuit under its belt as Sweden-based price comparison service PriceRunner drags the company to court for €2.1 billion (US$2.4 billion).
PriceRunner has sued Google for favoring its own products in searches in Europe. This comes after a European court found the online search giant in breach of EU antitrust laws. The union’s General Court upheld a fine imposed on the company to the tune of €2.42 billion (US$2.4 billion), a record.
While the fine was specifically to punish Google for putting its own comparison shopping services above its rivals, PriceRunner is now testing the extent of the ruling. As one of the rivals affected by Google’s anti-competitive conduct, PriceRunner now seeks to claim €2.1 billion ($2.4 billion) in damages. The suit is lodged at the Patent and Market Court in Stockholm and compensates PriceRunner for losses accrued in the UK, Sweden, and Denmark since 2008.
According to the company’s blog post, “PriceRunner has today sued Google for a preliminary amount of almost EUR 2.1 billion (SEK 22 billion) at the Patent and Market Court in Stockholm. The lawsuit follows the conclusion of the European General Court, which established that Google has breached EU antitrust laws by manipulating search results in favour of their own comparison shopping services. Google has thereby caused harm to European consumers who overpay when shopping online as well as to PriceRunner and other comparison shopping services. Since the violation is still ongoing, the amount of damages increases every day, we expect the final damages amount of the lawsuit to be significantly higher.”
PriceRunner claims in its lawsuit that Google had a monopoly-like position in Europe and says the American company has not complied with the EU’s ruling yet. Google is still diverting traffic and profits that should go to the competition, even though its services cost more. This harms consumers because they pay more, up to 14 percent, without the opportunity to know about cheaper alternatives.
The Swedish company expects the value of the damages in the lawsuit to increase as the case progresses because Google has not stopped abusing its position.
The CEO of PriceRunner, Mikael Lindahl, says:
“After extensive and thorough preparations, we have today sued Google for close to 2.1 billion euros. We are of course seeking compensation for the damage Google has caused us during many years, but are also seeing this lawsuit as a fight for consumers who have suffered tremendously from Google’s infringement of the competition law for the past fourteen years and still today.
“This is also a matter of survival for many European entrepreneurial companies and job opportunities within tech. If American tech giants, through a market position almost equal to a monopoly, are allowed to do exactly as they please and manipulate markets, we can almost certainly count on the fact that many tech companies in Europe will be affected far beyond the comparison shopping market in focus today.
“With financially strong owners, external funding and Europe’s leading experts on our team, we look forward to receiving compensation for our loss and to contributing to Google ending its illegal behaviour. Both European consumers and digital corporations suffer greater direct damage by these tech giants’ dominance than many would believe.”
Google, however, is still fighting the EU’s decision. It has launched another appeal after losing the first one claiming “there are areas that require legal clarification from the European Court of Justice.”