Google appeals CCI's Rs. 136 crore 'search bias' fine at NCLAT

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Google, an online search giant, has filed an appeal at the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal ( NCLAT) challenging a judgement from India's competition watchdog which had found it guilty of "search bias", two sources aware of the matter told Reuters.

The report quotes sources claiming that Google filed the appeal with NCLAT on Monday.

In February, India's CCI or Competition Commission of India imposed a fine of 1.36 billion rupees equal to $20.95 million on Google.

"Google was leveraging its dominance in the market for online general Web search, to strengthen its position in the market for online syndicate search services", the CCI said. Google has appealed against the verdict.

The ongoing drama has been unfolding since 2012 when services like Bharat Matrimony and Consumer Unity and Trust Society filed multiple complaints against Google for search manipulation and search bias. Janakiraman has earlier praised the CCI verdict, calling it a shot in the arm for the Digital India initiative and said that it would encourage the Indian internet ecosystem, in particular online start-ups.

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The CCI found Google abusing its dominance in three ways - first, placement of "Universal Results" before 2010 were pre-determined by Google and not based on relevance, which was unfair to the users.

CCI found that Google had placed its commercial flight search function at a prominent position on the search results page to the disadvantage of businesses trying to gain market access.

The CCI passed an order after a seven-year-long investigation brought to light that Google had been deliberately steering flight-related queries towards its own specialized flight search page rather than to competing websites. Google has not directly offered a comment on its appeal. "We are reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next steps".

In response to CCI allegations, a Google representative responded, "We have always focused on innovating to support the evolving needs of our users".

In February, Competition Commission of India (CCI) penalised Google for "infringing anti-trust conduct".

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