EU Court upholds record fine against Google

EU Court upholds record fine against Google

A European Union court has upheld a previous verdict against Google, forcing the Tech giant to pay a record fine of $41 billion dollars over its Android mobile service practices.

The court in a statement said it confirmed that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices in order to benefit its search engine.

After reviewing the length of the infringement, the court did however decide to reduce the fine given to the company to 4.125 billion euros ($41 billion), instead of the 4.3 billion euros earlier imposed by the European commission in 2018.

The fine remains the EU’s largest despite opposition from Google that the commission’s case was unfounded and relied on false accusations that it imposed its search engine and Chrome browser on Android mobile devices.

Google also asserted that the EU was being unfairly blind to the practices of Apple, which gives preference to the use of its services like the Safari web browser on its iphones.

The company insisted that downloading competing apps was one click away, and that users were in no way restricted to only Google products on Android.

The EU and complainants said that Google used contracts with Android phone makers in its early days to stifle rivals.

“This shows the European Commission got it right,” said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer representing FairSearch, whose original complaint launched the case in 2013.“

Google can no longer impose its will on phone makers. Now they may open their devices to competition in search and other services, allowing consumers to benefit from increased choice,” he added.

The decision by the EU General Court is not necessarily the final one, as both sides can still consult the EU’s apex court, the European Court of Justice on a final decision on the fine, which was equivalent to $5 billion when levied.

The Google Android case was the third of three major lawsuits brought against the company by the EU’s arm Margrethe Vestager, Whose legal challenges ushered in a wave of worldwide regulatory suits against Silicon Valley giants alike.

Since then Google has been hit with an onslaught of cases in the US and Asia based on similar accusations.

Just last year the South Korean government fined the tech company almost $180 million for abusing its market power in a similar case.

Vestager has already won against Google in an appeal of a separate case, a fine worth over 2.4 billion euros for abusing its search engine dominance. And as expected, Google appealed to the high court.

But the EU has also lost cases involving tech companies.

Vestager lost a $1 billion appeal imposed on chip company Qualcomm in June.

That loss followed a January setback when the EU lost the court’s approval for a 1.06 billion euro fine on fellow chip company Intel.

Brussels, showing frustration in the duration it takes to pursue competition cases, has since adopted the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which heavily regulates the way Big Tech companies operate.

The law is set to come into force next year and would put in place rules for Tech giants like Google and Facebook.

The DMA also limits the way companies such as Google or Apple promote their own services on their platforms.

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