The American internet giant Google failed on Wednesday September 14, 2022 to have a record fine of 4.3 billion euros imposed in 2018 by Brussels canceled for having abused the dominant position of its Android operating system, according to a judgment of the General Court of the EU.
“The action brought by Google is essentially dismissed”, considered the court established in Luxembourg. However, she judges ” appropriate “ to reduce the amount of the penalty to 4.1 billion euros in order to take better account of the seriousness and duration of the infringement.
This is a judgment rendered at first instance and subject to appeal within two months.
Google ‘disappointed’ by EU justice
After the announcement of this decision, Google said to itself ” disappointed “ : “We are disappointed that the (EU) tribunal did not overturn the decision in its entirety. Android has created more choices for everyone […] and supports thousands of businesses in Europe and around the world »the US giant said in a statement.
Brussels notably accuses Google of having forced manufacturers of telephones and tablets using its operating system to pre-install its search engine and its Chrome browser to eliminate competitors. The Android system is used on approximately 80% of mobile devices worldwide.
“The court largely confirms the Commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on mobile device manufacturers and mobile network operators, in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine”the court said in a statement.
A record fine
The Mountain View (California) group considers the accusation unfounded. He had seized European justice to claim the cancellation of the fine, the highest ever decided by the competition authority in Brussels (even after the reduction proposed by the court).
The American giant believes that the EU has wrongly ignored competitor Apple, which favors its own services on its iPhones, such as the Safari browser. “The commission has turned a blind eye to the real competitive dynamics of this sector, the one between Apple and Android”explained the group’s lawyer, during a hearing last year.
Google stressed that downloading competing apps was a click away and that customers were under no obligation to use its products on Android.
A possible appeal
However, Wednesday’s decision should not close this dispute, which began in 2015 with the opening of a procedure by the European Commission, after several complaints from competitors. Google has the possibility of appealing to the Court of Justice of the EU, the highest European court.
The case is one of three major disputes opened by Brussels against Google, whose practices are also disputed in the United States and Asia.
In 2017, the Commission imposed a fine of 2.4 billion euros on the technology giant for anti-competitive practices in the price comparison market. This fine was confirmed in January by the EU court. Google then announced that it was appealing.
In 2019, the European executive had still claimed 1.5 billion euros from Google for infringements of competition attributed to its AdSense advertising management.
On the other hand, European justice had canceled in June a fine of nearly one billion euros against the mobile telephony equipment manufacturer Qualcomm, after having already canceled in January a sanction of 1.06 billion euros against the chipmaker Intel electronics.