Google Suffers Major Defeat in EU Android Antitrust Case

Posted on September 14, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Google with 16 Comments

The EU General Court on Wednesday upheld a 2018 European Commission (EC) ruling against Google alleging that it broke antitrust laws with Android. But it reduced the fine that Google must pay for its transgressions from €4.34 billion to €4.125 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,” the General Court ruling notes. “In order better to reflect the gravity and duration of the infringement, the General Court considers it appropriate however to impose a fine of €4.125 billion on Google, its reasoning differing in certain respects from that of the Commission.”

After a three-year investigation, the EC in 2018 determined that Google used Android to maintain and extend its monopoly in Internet search by paying hardware makers and wireless carriers to keep Google Search as the default on their devices. Google argued that the payments it had to these partners had helped keep Android free, a specious argument given that these partners have to pay Google for the most crucial components of Android, including the Google Play Store and its apps ecosystem.

This case is only one of three major antitrust cases that Google is fighting in the EU and if it is found liable for all three, it will pay over $8 billion in fines. But Google could still appeal this ruling, albeit only on points of law, finally ending this lengthy legal process.

“We are disappointed that the Court did not annul the decision in full,” a Google statement reads. “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world.”

In related news, a U.S. District Court on Tuesday struck down parts of a Texas antitrust case against Google for its advertising business, noting that the online giant’s alleged violations were “not plausible.” Google had previously railed against this insane and ever-changing case back in January, noting that what Texas really wanted was for Google to be forced to share user data and design its products in a way that would benefit its competitors.

“Today’s decision underscores how [the Texas] case is deeply flawed,” Google explains. “As we’ve long said, advertising technology is a fiercely competitive industry — and our products increase choice for publishers, advertisers, and consumers while enabling small businesses to affordably find new customers. We look forward to setting the record straight about the remaining claims.”

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