LUXEMBOURG, Sept 14 – Google suffered one of its biggest setbacks on Wednesday when Europe’s top court fined it 4.125 billion euros ($4.13 billion) for using its Android mobile operating system to thwart competitors, setting a precedent for other regulatory authorities. pressure increase.
A unit of U.S. tech giant Alphabet ( GOOGL.O ) challenged the earlier decision, but the ruling was upheld by Europe’s second highest court on Wednesday and the fine was reduced only slightly from 4.34 billion euros.
It is a record fine for antitrust violations. The EU’s antitrust authority 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.
It is the second court defeat for Google, which lost its 2.42 billion euro ($2.42 billion) fine last year, the first of three cases.
“The General Court largely upholds the Commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on Android mobile device manufacturers and mobile network operators in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine,” the court said.
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“In order to take better account of the gravity and duration of the infringement, the Tribunal considers it appropriate to impose a fine of €4.125 billion on Google, its reasoning differing in certain respects from that of the Commission,” the judges said.
Google, which can appeal legal matters to the European Court of Justice, Europe’s highest court, expressed its disappointment.
“We are disappointed that the court did not overturn the decision in full. Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world,” the spokesperson said.
The ruling is a boost for EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager after setbacks this year in cases involving other tech giants such as Intel ( INTC.O ) and Qualcomm ( QCOM.O ).
Vestager has made her crackdown on Big Tech a hallmark of her work, a move that has encouraged regulators in the United States and elsewhere to follow suit.
He is currently investigating Google’s digital advertising business, its Jedi Blue advertising agreement with Meta ( META.O ), Apple’s ( AAPL.O ) App Store rules, Meta’s marketplace and data use, and online sales and marketplace practices of Amazon (AMZN.O).
The court agreed with the Commission’s assessment that iPhone maker Apple ( AAPL.O ) was not in the same market and therefore could not be a competitive restraint on Android.
The court’s support could strengthen EU antitrust watchdogs investigating Apple’s business practices in the music streaming market, which the regulator says the company dominates.
FairSearch, whose 2013 complaint sparked the EU case, said the ruling would further strengthen Vestager’s landmark technology rules aimed at curbing US tech giants, which come into effect next year.
“This victory will embolden the Commission in enforcing its new regulation governing Big Tech, the Digital Markets Act,” said its lawyer, Thomas Vinje.
In its 2018 decision, the commission said Google was using Android to consolidate its dominance in general internet search through payments to large manufacturers and mobile network operators and restrictions.
Google said it had acted like countless other companies and that such payments and agreements help keep Android a free operating system, criticizing the EU’s decision as being at odds with the economic reality of mobile software platforms.
The case is T-604/18 Google v European Commission.