Antitrust: Commission fines Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices to strengthen dominance of Google’s search engine
The European Commission has fined Google €4.34 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search.
Google has engaged in three separate types of practices, which all had the aim of bolstering Google’s dominant position in general internet search. In particular, Google:
- required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google’s app store (the Play Store);
- made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices; and
- has prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google ( “Android forks”).
Market dominance is, as such, not illegal under EU antitrust rules. However, dominant companies have a special responsibility not to abuse their powerful market position by restricting competition, either in the market where they are dominant or in separate markets.
Based on the Decision of EC, Google is required to stop and not to re-engage in any of the three types of practices. The decision also requires Google to refrain from any measure that has the same or an equivalent object or effect as these practices.
It is Google’s sole responsibility to ensure compliance with the Commission decision. If Google fails to ensure compliance with the Commission decision, it would be liable for non-compliance payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The Commission would have to determine such non-compliance in a separate decision, with any payment backdated to when the non-compliance started.
Finally, Google is also liable to face civil actions for damages that can be brought before the courts of the Member States by any person or business affected by its anti-competitive behaviour. The new Directive 2014/104/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 November 2014 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions enables injured persons from anti-competitive practices to receive damages.