Over the years, Google has become a major donator to the economy of the European Union. The company has fallen foul of regulators more than any other Big Tech giant and has forked billions of dollars in fines. So, that Google has lost another antitrust case – this time an appeal – and will need to pay €4.1 billion is hardly a surprise.
This fine stems from a decision by the European Commission (EC) in 2018, which found Google guilty of unfairly restricting Android OEMs and network operators. At the time, the EC slapped Google with a record €4.34 billion fine.
As is usually the case in these situations, Google was having none of it and went back to the courts to appeal. Well, today, the Mountain View company has lost that appeal in an EU court.
For the most part, the EU General Court upheld the decisions of the EC. That means the court agrees Google was using anti-competitive tactics. The only (minor) victory for Google was the court found discrepancies in the EC's analysis, specifically finding the regulator partially infringed Google's right to a fair hearing.
The result of those irregularities meant the court reduced the fine from €4.34 billion to €4.1 billion. In a post-decision statement, the General Court says:
“The General Court largely confirms the commission's decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices and mobile network operators in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine.”
Google was found to have been restricting Android OEMs in three ways:
- Illegal tying of Google's search and browser apps
- Illegal payments conditional on exclusive pre-installation of Google Search
- Illegal obstruction of development and distribution of competing Android operating systems
In response to the ruling, the company says it disagrees with the findings:
“We are disappointed that the court did not annul the decision in full. Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world.”
It is worth noting Google can appeal again to the higher court, the EU Court of Justice. While the company may take this route, a winning outcome seems unlikely. In 2017, the company was forced to pay $2.7 billion for breaching competition laws around its shopping search results.
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