An EU judge told Google it’s landed on Monopoly’s ‘Go to Jail’ square and reportedly threatened to increase its $2.6 billion antitrust fine


Google’s legal battle with the EU over antitrust fines has just gotten fierce.

An EU judge has just slammed Google, saying that it’s landed on “Go to Jail, do not pass go” in Monopoly terms.

The tech giant is currently contesting a €2.4 billion ($2.6 billion) fine first imposed by the EU in June 2017, with the EU claiming Google had abused its dominance over other shopping comparison services.

According to Politico, Judge Colm Mac Eochaidh said: “For me, this case is about visibility. It is perfectly apparent that you have promoted your own and demoted others,” also accusing Google’s lawyers of “obfuscating” in his address to the EU General Court.

“We’re playing a Monopoly game. I think you landed on the ‘Go directly to jail’ case, do not pass by go,” Eochaidh added.

A Wall Street Journal EU politics reporter, Valentina Pop, also tweeted midday Friday that Eochaidh had raised the possibility of increasing the €2.4 billion fine from June 2017. According to Pop, Eochaidh called 2017’s €2.4 billion fine “small cash in [Google’s] hands” and asked whether this fine has deterred Google from repeating its behavior.

Google’s legal forms part of a broader challenge that Google’s expected to mount against three large EU fines imposed on it in the past three years.

As well as the June 2017 fine, it was hit with a €4.3 billion ($5 billion) fine in July 2018 for allegedly abusing its dominant position of its Android operating system, while a third €1.49 billion ($1.7 billion) fine came in March 2019 for allegedly blocking its online advertising rivals.

To be clear, Eochaidh’s “Go to Jail” claim is metaphorical: while the EU can impose fines on antitrust grounds, antitrust cases do not fall under criminal law.

Nevertheless, it’s a clear early indication that Google’s legal team – to invoke another metaphor – has a real fight on its hands.

Google wasted no time marshaling its arguments yesterday, with one of its lawyers, Thomas Graf claiming that the EU’s antitrust punishments threaten internet innovation.