Google loses fight against EU antitrust ruling, other trials underway

Google loses fight against EU antitrust ruling, other trials underway
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LUXEMBOURG, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Google suffered one of its biggest setbacks when Europe’s top court upheld a ruling that it violated competition rules and fined it a record 4.1 billion euros. Pressure on the US giant.

A unit of US tech giant Alphabet (GOOGL.O) It had challenged the EU’s antitrust ruling, but the decision was broadly upheld by the European General Court, which reduced the fine from 4.34 billion euros to 4.125 billion euros ($4.13 billion).

Even with the reduction, it was still a record fine for an antitrust violation. The EU’s antitrust body has fined the world’s most popular internet search engine a total of 8.25 billion euros in three investigations spanning more than a decade.

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The ruling is set to strengthen landmark rules aimed at curbing the power of US tech giants that will take effect next year. read more

“The ruling strengthens the Commission’s hand. It confirms that the Commission can use antitrust procedures as a backstop threat to ensure rapid compliance with the digital regulation known as DMA,” said Nicolas Petit, a professor at the European University Institute.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager was not offended by his words.

“It’s certainly really good. Now we have a second decision from Google, and for us it’s really important because it supports our enforcement efforts,” he said.

It is Google’s second court defeat after being fined 2.42 billion euros ($2.42 billion) last year, the first of three cases.

“The Supreme Court largely upholds the Commission’s decision that Google imposed illegal restrictions on Android mobile device manufacturers and mobile network operators to strengthen its search engine dominance,” the court said.

“To better reflect the gravity and duration of the infringement, the General Court considers it appropriate to impose a fine of €4.125 billion on Google, whose reasoning differs in some respects from that of the Commission,” the judges said.

Google, which can appeal to the European Court of Justice, the highest court in Europe, expressed its disappointment.

“We are disappointed that the court did not completely overturn the decision. Android has created not less, but more choice for everyone and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world,” the spokesperson said.


The decision is a boost for Vestager after the Supreme Court overturned its decisions against Intel (INTC.O) and Qualcomm (QCOM.O) earlier this year.

Vestager has made his crackdown on Big Tech a hallmark of his work, prompting regulators in the US and elsewhere to follow suit.

He is currently investigating Google’s digital advertising business, its Jedi Blue advertising deal with Meta (META.O)Apple’s (AAPL.O) App Store rules, Meta market and data usage and Amazon (AMZN.O) online sales and market practices.

The Court agreed with the Commission’s assessment of iPhone maker Apple (AAPL.O) it was not in the same market and therefore could not be a competitive constraint against Android.

Court support could strengthen EU antitrust oversight in the regulator’s investigations into Apple’s business practices in the music streaming market, which Apple dominates.

FairSearch, whose 2013 complaint led to the EU case, said the decision could lead to more competition in the smartphone market.

“This shows that the European Commission has made the right decision. Google can no longer impose its will on phone manufacturers. They can now open their devices to competition in search and other services, which will allow consumers to benefit from increased choice,” said its lawyer Thomas Vinje said.

The commission’s 2018 ruling said Google used Android to consolidate its dominance in general internet search through payments and restrictions on major manufacturers and mobile network operators.

Google, like countless other businesses, has criticized the EU’s decision as out of step with the economic reality of mobile software platforms, saying that such payments and agreements help keep Android a free operating system.

The case is T-604/18 Google v European Commission.

($1 = 1.0002 euros)

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Reporting by Foo Yun Chee Editing by David Evans and Bernadette Baum

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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