Google loses early skirmish

Posted: 5th January 2016

GoogleIn the context of a ground-breaking investigation into whether Google is abusing its dominant position as an Internet search engine and advertiser, a judge has taken steps to ensure that the European Commission and the High Court take a consistent approach to parallel proceedings.

A company that operates a website that compares the prices and features of goods and services had launched domestic proceedings against Google for alleged breaches of Article 102 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union and the Competition Act 1998. There was a substantial overlap between those proceedings and a complaint against Google which had been brought by the company and others and which was under consideration by the Commission.

Google had disclosed almost 700 documents to the company in the domestic proceedings and the latter sought permission to prepare an analysis of that material for use by the Commission. All but a very small number of the documents mentioned in the analysis were already before the Commission and the company had promised to redact references to those which were not.

In objecting to the company’s proposal, Google argued that it would involve using documents disclosed in the domestic proceedings for the collateral purpose of preparing an analysis for the Commission. However, the judge found that Google’s concerns were insubstantial and that there were cogent reasons for allowing the company’s application.