Google Ads: Google condemned for abuse of dominant position

02/03/2021

By repeatedly deleting advertisements purchased by an operator on its Google Ads site, the American company was guilty of anti-competitive practices.

Such is the verdict of the Paris Court of First Instance on February 10 in the case opposing the net giant to an operator of telephone inquieries.

Originally, as early as 2018, the telecom operator began using the Google Ads service, « an advertising space sales service that offers advertisers the possibility of displaying ads on the site of Google’s search engine according to the search terms that have been typed by Internet users. ».

The operator has thus published several ads under the keyword « customer services », in order to provide access to these telephone information services.

It will be subsequently informed that the diffusion of all its Google Ads ads will be suspended by Google on the grounds « refused for sale of free object ». After complaint by the operator, Google will restore these ads, to suspend other accounts opened by the operator.

The Judicial Court has initially confirmed Google’s dominant position in the market for online search[1] advertising.

The Court then held that the successive suspensions had caused damage to the operator, « because of a business interruption and the resulting loss of margin ».

It also turns out that Google indicated, in September 2019, “the implementation of a new rule in order to no longer allow advertisements for directory enquiry services for call transfer and call recording. ».

The judges then recalled that « 118 directory assistance companies are subject to the approval of ARCEP (Autorité de Régulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes) which allocates 118 numbers as part of its general mission of managing the numbering plan but which also exercises control over their activity as evidenced by the determination of a ceiling price in 2021 for the resulting service. Consumer protection is therefore ensured by an official control body of this profession and cannot be used to justify a rule of eviction. ».

Thus, according to the Court, Google « has an obvious interest in eliminating any company that allows telephone contact that becomes a competitor to its own products. The implementation of this rule must therefore be considered as an anti-competitive maneuver (…) by abuse of dominant position », that it committed a fault by suspending its Googles Ads services to a directory assistance operator.

Our UGGC Law Firm  and its team of Lawyers specialized in digital and competition law are at your disposal to assist you in the protection of your legal and economic interests.

By IP/IT team of UGGC Law Firm

Source : Légalis

UGGC - Google ads

[1] According to Decision No. 19 D-26 of December 19, 2019 on practices implemented in the online advertising sector related to the research of the Competition Authority

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