Luxembourg The lawsuit of the US Internet giant Google against a billion-euro fine of the EU Commission has led to a small reduction in the fine. The Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg confirmed the decision of the EU Commission from 2018 on Wednesday. However, it slightly lowered the fine to around 4.1 billion euros. The judgment can now still be appealed to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The Commission accuses Google of unfairly securing the market position of its online offerings on Android smartphones against other service providers. Android, which is used by manufacturers such as Samsung, Oppo or Xiaomi, is the most used smartphone system in the world with a market share of around 80 percent. Apple’s iPhones with their iOS system do the rest.
Android is developed by Google, is free of charge for device manufacturers and can in principle also be modified by them. But there are limitations when you bring Google services like GMail or Maps to the devices.
Among other things, the Commission was disturbed by the fact that manufacturers of Android smartphones who want to integrate Google services always had to bring a complete package of eleven apps from the Internet company to the devices. For example, Google’s Chrome browser and Google search would always come to the devices, even if a manufacturer, for example, only wanted to install the Play Store app platform.
Google changed the business model in 2018 and now allows manufacturers to integrate individual services without Chrome and web search. Despite the legal action against the Commission’s decision, the Group had to follow their demands.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager stressed at the 2018 decision that the pre-installation of Google as a standard search engine ensures that consumers also use it instead of downloading a competitor’s application. Google countered at the time that the bundling of several apps was necessary because users would otherwise not be able to use linked Google services sensibly.
In addition, the Brussels authority criticized the so-called “anti-fragmentation agreement”, according to which providers of devices with Google services could not simultaneously sell smartphones with modified versions of Android. Vestager’s example is that a few years ago Amazon wanted to offer its modified Android system FireOS to other manufacturers. They were interested – but would not have been able to use FireOS, because after that they would not have been able to offer devices with Google services. Google also lifted this restriction in 2018.
A series of legal disputes between the EU and Google
The commission’s third allegation was that Google only shares the proceeds from advertising in the search app with device manufacturers if it had been installed exclusively on the phones and tablets. Since 2018, Google has been offering new license agreements for the non-exclusive use of the app.
The judgment is part of a series of legal disputes between the EU Commission responsible for competition in the European Union and the American group (Case T-604/18). Since 2017, the Brussels authority has imposed several penalties on Google on a sometimes historic scale, most recently last year. Both before the EU Court and before the ECJ, several lawsuits by Google against Commission decisions are still pending.