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PriceRunner sues Google for $2.4 billion over alleged antitrust breach

The Google logo displayed on a smartphone alongside a shopping cart.

Rafael Henrique | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

A Swedish price comparison website is suing Google for 2.1 billion euros ($ 2.4 billion) over allegations that it manipulated search results in favor of its own competing shopping service.

PriceRunner said Monday that it plans to take Google to court in Stockholm. It’s seeking compensation for damages in relation to a 2017 ruling from the European Commission that Google breached antitrust laws by giving preference to its own shopping comparison product, Google Shopping, through its popular search engine.

After a seven-year investigation into the practices, the EU executive body dealt Google a historic $ 2.7 billion fine. Google appealed the penalty, but in November 2021, the decision was upheld by the EU General Court. The verdict can still be appealed and taken to the EU’s highest court.

PriceRunner CEO Mikael Lindahl said the company launched its lawsuit following “extensive and thorough preparations.”

“We are of course seeking compensation for the damage Google has caused us over 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,” Lindahl said in a statement.

“This is also a matter of survival for many European entrepreneurial companies and job opportunities within tech.”

A Google spokesperson said the company looks forward to defending its case in court. The company made a number of changes in 2017 aimed at addressing the commission’s concerns.

“The changes we made to shopping ads back in 2017 are working successfully, generating growth and jobs for hundreds of comparison shopping services who operate more than 800 websites across Europe,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“The system is subject to intensive monitoring by the EU Commission and two sets of outside experts. PriceRunner chose not to use shopping ads on Google, so may not have seen the same successes that others have.”

PriceRunner alleges Google has not complied with the commission’s ruling and is still abusing its dominant position among internet search engines. It expects the final damages to be “significantly higher” than the interim sum of 2.1 billion euros.

The company, which in November agreed to be taken over by Swedish fintech firm Klarna, wants Google to pay compensation for profits it lost in the UK since 2008, and in Sweden and Denmark from 2013 onward.

“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 behavior,” Lindahl said.

PriceRunner says it’s the largest independent price comparison service in the Nordic region, with over 3.7 million products to select from 22,500 stores across 25 different countries.

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