On the 14th of September 2022, the European General Court (“EGC”) delivered its judgement on Google’s antitrust case. The EGC largely upheld the European Commission’s (“EC”) 2018 ruling to impose an antitrust fine on Google, but with a slight reduction of the fine from €4.343bn to €4.125bn to “better reflect the gravity and duration of the infringement”.
In 2018, the EC fined Google for abusing its dominant position by illegally imposing anticompetitive contractual restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators, infringing Article 102 of the TFEU and Article 54 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA).
Below are some of the key findings of the EC, as upheld by the EGC:
- Google requires mobile device manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Chrome in order to obtain a licence to use Play Store. Such a requirement is abusive as it granted Google a significant competitive advantage which could give rise to a “status quo bias” due to users’ tendency to use the browser apps available to them.
- Google’s restrictions in “anti-fragmentation agreements” are abusive as they strengthened Google’s dominant position (on the market for general search devices), in so far as it limits the diversity of services available to users and deters innovation.
However, the EGC annulled a part of the EC’s findings, e.g. where the EC found that Google’s “sole pre-installation condition” in its portfolio-based revenue share agreements is abusive. Despite this, the €4.125bn fine is a record-breaking EU antitrust fine, marking a major step in the regulation of technological giants to ensure fair competition. Google stated its disappointment in not having the EC’s decision annulled in full.
Apart from this latest fine, Google is currently awaiting judgement on its appeal against the EGC’s €2.42bn fine for the abuse of its dominance in the search engine market (Google and Alphabet v Commission (Google Shopping), T-612/17).
The press release of the European General Court can be accessed here.
Please contact Tim Cowen if you have any questions regarding the above.
The material contained in this article is only for general review of the topics covered and does not constitute any legal advice. No legal or business decision should be based on its content.