The European General Court, part of the Court of Justice, has decided in an appeal case from Google to largely uphold the fine of 4.34 billion euros previously imposed by the European Commission. However, the Court applies a small reduction.
The Court largely agrees the previous Commission decision from 2018. Then a fine of €4.34 billion was imposed. That has now been reduced by the General Court to EUR 4.125 billion. These cases concern the question of whether Google has abused its dominant position with the Android operating system. The General Court came to a different conclusion on a number of points, but stated that there was still an infringement of European competition rules.
In largely upholding the amount of the fine, the judges also considered “the intentional nature of the conduct of the unlawful practices and the value of the relevant sales made by Google in the last year of its full participation in the infringement.”
The Commission’s decision to impose a fine must be partially annulled, in view of some diverging judgments of the General Court. This concerns in particular the point that the portfolio-based revenue share agreements in themselves constitute an abuse of a dominant position. Under these agreements, mobile device manufacturers and mobile network operators received a share of Google’s advertising revenue.
The General Court states that there are gaps in the Commission’s evidence on this point, but immediately states that this partial annulment does not affect the ultimate validity of the decision to fine. The judges confirmed that there was an infringement in light of the “exclusive effects arising from Google’s other abusive practices during the infringement period”.
Three violations were cited in the Commission’s 2018 decision. The first offense was that Google required its Search app and Chrome browser to be pre-installed on Android devices. Second, Google allegedly paid “significant amounts” to major manufacturers and carriers to pre-install Google Search exclusively on all of their Android devices. The third violation was alleging that Google had prevented manufacturers from developing their own Android forks.
The European General Court is part of the Court of Justice, but it is not the highest judicial body in the European Union. That’s the Court of Justice. Google can therefore appeal again. This must be done within two months and ten days of the announcement of the present judgment. An appeal can only be lodged on the basis of a dispute of the legal bases and not on, for example, the dispute of the facts of the case.