Google loses the first round in its fight to overturn record-breaking EU fine

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C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • The European Commission filed a record-breaking €4.3 billion antitrust fine against Google.
  • While the judges did find some faults in the regulator’s analysis, they upheld a majority of the group’s argument.
  • The fine was dropped from €4.3 billion to €4.1 billion.

In Google’s first fight to overturn a record-breaking €4.3 billion (~$4.3 billion) antitrust fine submitted by the European Commission, judges sided largely in favor of the European Commission. However, the judges decided to drop the fine from €4.3 billion to €4.1 billion.

In 2018, the European Commission accused Google of participating in illegal behavior that helped the company establish the dominance of its search engine. The European Commission argues:

  • Google illegally required smartphone manufacturers to pre-install the company’s Google Search app and Chrome browser as a condition for licensing its Play Store.
  • Google made payments to large phone makers and operators if they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app.
  • Google prevented manufacturers from pre-installing apps running on alternative versions of Android if those apps weren’t approved by Google first.

After being presented with these arguments during the hearing, the judges ruled mostly in favor of the analysis of EU’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, according to Bloomberg. However, the judges found faults with the second claim and believed Google’s right to a fair hearing had partly been infringed. As a result, the penalty was reduced to €4.1 billion.

“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,” said the EU’s Court of Justice in its statement.

Google replied to the decision saying, “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.”

Although things seem bad for Google right now over in Europe, it doesn’t look much better for the Mountain View-based company here in the US. Just last Thursday, the Department of Justice reached out to a federal judge to accuse Google of similar anti-competitive behavior.

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