The UK’s High Court has ruled that Google must either show his “jewel in the crown” to a man it describes as a search engine optimization expert or drop part of its defence in a long-running competition lawsuit,media reported. The case, which took place in the UK and centres on whether Google had mistakenly downgraded price comparison rival Foundem in its search results, must now decide whether its search results rank algorithms or manually mash up those who use them to improve the results of their paid products over rival sites and do not violate competition law.
High Court judge Justice Roth raised the tough question with Google’s lawyers in mid-March, just as the global pandemic on the new corona virus began to provoke a reaction from Western governments.
Foundem had asked for legal leave to allow independent expert Philipp Kl?ckner to read confidential documents disclosed by Google in court. The documents are evidence presented to the court by Google engineers Cody Kwok and Michael Pohl. As the judges said, they tried to explain how Google’s ranking algorithmworks and purposes and how it was widely used on shopping comparison sites, especially Foundem.
Foundem has been tracking Google since 2006, when a change at the Mountain View company led to the price tag’s disappearance from Google’s search rankings. Foundem pointed out that Google’s downgrade was a deliberate attempt to punish a commercial competitor and an abuse of Google’s dominant market position.
Google denies this and is defending the UK’s High Court claims against Foundem and the EU competition investigation triggered by the site.
Foundem argued in the High Court that without the presence of SEO experts, the company’s lawyers could not understand the technical algorithmic evidence. In response, Google strongly objected to allowing Kl?ckner to view their files because he was a still-working SEO consultant. Google worries that this will allow Kl?ckner to apply what he sees to his work. In addition, Google said that Kl?ckner may have been biased against his company because he had worked for Trivago and Visual Meta, both of which had previously complained to the European Commission about Google’s anti-competitive practices.
In response, Foundem suggested that Google could simply withdraw the evidence so that no one could read it. Google, on the other hand, insists that the evidence is crucial to proving that the company did nothing wrong. As a result, Judge Ross gave a choice: either withdraw the evidence on Foundem’s advice or agree to let Kl?ckner read the algorithmic document.