After the General Court of the European Union “confirmed” Brussels’ decision to impose a multibillion-euro fine on the Silicon Valley tech company, Google has lost its legal antitrust challenge. In a statement, the business said that “the General Court largely endorses the Commission’s assessment that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices and mobile network providers in order to consolidate the dominating position of its search engine.”
On Wednesday, a European Union court upheld a finding that Google had broken EU competition laws. The General Court reduced the €4.3 billion fine that had previously been levied on Google to €4.1 billion, even though it mainly upheld a European Commission (EC) finding that Google had engaged in anti-competitive activities. In 2018, the EC penalised Google for engaging in anti-competitive behavior that violated both Article 54 of the European Economic Arena Agreement and Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. A lower court maintained the €4.3 billion penalty imposed on Google. Google challenged the judgment.
“The European Commission notes that the General Court’s ruling from today mainly upholds the Commission’s ruling from July 2018 that determined Google and its parent company Alphabet had misused their dominant position. The General Court also substantially upheld the €4.125 billion fine that the European Commission imposed on Google and Alphabet. It happens at a time when the European Commission is taking tough measures against digital companies to establish fair playing conditions in the 27-member economic union.
In a 2018 judgment, Vestager of the EC charged Google of putting unjustified limitations on Android developers and mobile network operators in order to “cement” its dominating position in internet search. In prior comments on the issue, Google claimed that Android has given users more choice than any other mobile platform when it comes to choosing which applications to use. Google criticized the ruling as being out of step with the financial realities of mobile software platform.
In line with the ruling of the lower court, the General Court determined that Google had broken anti-competitive laws. Google’s business tactics with regard to its Android operating system were at the heart of the controversy. Around 80% of all smart mobile devices used in Europe in 2018 were Androids, according to the EC. According to the EC, Google imposed contractual limitations that supported Google’s monopolistic position in the market. In order to use its app store, original equipment manufacturers had to pre-install Chrome and Google Search. Anti-fragmentation agreements with manufacturers also contained restrictions, as did sharing advertising revenue with manufacturers and operators who agreed not to pre-install a competing search engine.
Although the court mostly rejected Google’s appeal, it did agree to reduce the punishment amount based on a new estimate of the constraints under the ad revenue sharing agreement.