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Competition & EU law insights

Keeping you up to date on Competition & EU law developments in Europe and beyond.

| 2 minutes read

Polish price comparison dispute

On 14 March 2024, the District Court in Warsaw (the “Court”) granted an interim preliminary injunction to Ceneo (a Polish price comparison website, part of Allegro Group) that secures its claims by prohibiting Google from applying practices that allegedly restrict competition. The granted injunction will be valid for the entire duration of the civil proceedings.

Although that decision does not determine what the outcome of the substantive civil proceedings will be, it does indicate that Ceneo substantiated its claims and demonstrated the existence of a legal interest in having the injunction granted.

In its application, Ceneo argued that since August 2023 Google has engaged in practices that restrict Ceneo's access to the market. Those practices consisted of:

  1. self-preferencing, i.e., favoring Google’s own comparison shopping service by embedding that service within the general search results pages, to the detriment of competing third-party price comparison services;
  2. displaying widgets redirecting users to the Google comparison shopping service if they type a query containing the word “Ceneo” in the Google search engine;
  3. not displaying links to Ceneo’s website from organic search results in the Google search engine;
  4. displaying unauthorized Ceneo advertisements.

The case involves Polish and EU competition law, and the Polish Act on combating unfair competition.

At Ceneo’s request, the President of the Polish Competition Authority (the “PCA”) presented its position to the Court, in which it considered:

  1. the existence of a dominant position and potential abuse of it;
  2. the theoretical harm of restricting competition by favouring one’s own services;
  3. the potential consequences if the alleged conduct is found unlawful;
  4. the impact of the Digital Market Act (DMA) on the alleged conduct at issue;
  5. a possible violation of the Polish Act on combating unfair competition.

The PCA noted that the behavior indicated in Ceneo's application, if confirmed and proven, could involve a distortion of competition by giving Google a competitive advantage without providing equal opportunities to its competitors on the Polish market. Nevertheless, the PCA's position does not determine the facts or the legal classification of the alleged acts. To prove its charges against Google, Ceneo will need to obtain data regarding the algorithms used to place search results on Google’s website.

This case shares similarities with a decision of 27 June 2017 in which the European Commission found Google guilty of abusing its dominant position by having its search engine favor its own comparison shopping service. Google appealed to the General Court, which upheld the Commission’s decision, and then to the Court of Justice, which is expected to decide the case later this year.

Google’s alleged favoring of its own comparison shopping service is also the subject of court proceedings in the Czech Republic. Heureka is seeking damages through a private enforcement path. The latest judgment of the ECJ confirmed that Heureka’s claims are not time-barred and can be brought forward.

If you need more information or further guidance in this area, please contact Marcin Alberski and Stanislaw Szymanek.



eu, eu law, competition, competition law, antitrust, antitrust law, injunction, polish competition authority, pca, europe, poland, competition & eu law