The European Union’s General Court on Wednesday confirmed an antitrust ruling against Google’s for dominance of its search engine, but reduced the fine to 4.125 billion Euros (US$ 4.12 billion) from 4.34 billion Euros.
The dispute between Google and the EU courts is over whether it uses the Android operating system to quash competition, and was initiated against the company in 2015.
The court said it “largely confirms the European Commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices and mobile network operators to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine.”
However Google replied that, “We are disappointed that the Court did not annul 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 Commission, in 2018, said Google required certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators to exclusively pre-install the Google search app on their devices, preventing mobile makers from selling phones with other versions of Android that weren't approved by Google.
Europe's second-highest court, the General Court, based in Luxembourg, said in the ruling it had reduced the fine to €4.125 billion (US$ 4.12 billion) after judges used a different reasoning from the Commission.
The General Court largely confirms the Commission's decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on operators in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine, the judges said.
Google contends that Android phones compete with Apple phones, which use its iOS operating system, and that using Android still allows consumers a choice of phone maker, mobile network operator, and the opportunity to remove Google apps and install others.
In Wednesday’s ruling, the General Court said the new fine was “appropriate in view of the significance of the infringement.”
It highlighted that Google’s business model “is based first and foremost on increasing the numbers of users of its online search services so that it can sell its online advertising services,” whereas Apple focuses on the sale of higher-end smart mobile devices.
Google can still appeal the ruling in the EU’s highest court.
Google has been fined by the EU in two other cases: 2,42bn Euros for favoring its own comparison shopping service on general results from its search pages; and 1,49bn Euros for stopping website owners from including search results from its rivals.