Google defended its business model on Wednesday, saying that making innovative products was at its core rather than helping rivals, as it sought to overturn a 2.4-billion-euro ($2.6 billion) EU antitrust fine at Europe’s second-highest court.
The legal fight comes as European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager gears up to take on U.S. tech giants and Chinese companies with legislation in the coming months, on top of ongoing antitrust investigations.
“Competition law does not require Google to hold back innovation or compromise its quality to accommodate rivals. Otherwise, competition would be restricted and innovation would be stifled,” the company’s lawyer Thomas Graf told a panel of five judges on the first of a three-day hearing at the General Court.
“The decision’s case is, at its core, that Google should not have introduced these innovations, unless it gave competing CSSs (comparison shopping services) the same access,” Graf said, laying out the arguments for the world’s most popular internet search engine in a decade-long battle with the European Commission over its business practices.
The company did not favor its own service but competed on its merits, he said.
The EU competition enforcer handed the fine to Google in 2017 for favoring its own price-comparison shopping service against those of smaller European rivals.
Two further decisions for different issues since then have lifted the total penalty to 8.25 billion euros, four times more than Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) EU fines of 2.2 billion euros.
Commission lawyer Nicholas Khan swatted away Google’s arguments, saying this was a clear case of a company using its dominance to give itself an advantage in other markets.