Google loses Brussels antitrust case but EU court reduces fine to €4.1bn

·2-min read
Google was accused by Brussels of using its Android mobile operating system to undermine competitors. Photo: Zhang Yi/VCG via Getty Images
Google was accused by Brussels of using its Android mobile operating system to undermine competitors. Photo: Zhang Yi/VCG via Getty

Google has lost its legal antitrust challenge on Wednesday after the European Union's General Court "confirmed" Brussels’ decision to issue the Silicon Valley tech company with a multibillion-euro fine.

The loss, the first of a trio of cases, accused the Alphabet-owned (GOOG) firm of using its Android mobile operating system to undermine competitors.

"The General Court largely confirms the Commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices and mobile network operators in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine," it said in a statement on Wednesday.

However, the court trimmed the fine to be paid by Google from €4.3bn (£3.7bn, $4.3bn) to €4.1bn to "better reflect the gravity and the duration of the infringement" as its "reasoning" differed in "certain respects from that of the Commission," judges said.

Wednesday's ruling comes as a win for the bloc's anti-competition boss Margrethe Vestager after setbacks in cases involving other tech companies including Qualcomm (QCOM) and Intel (INTC) this year.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said it will "carefully study the judgment and decide on possible next steps".

The spokesperson said: "The European Commission takes note of today's judgment by the General Court largely confirming the Commission’s July 2018 decision which found that Google and its parent company Alphabet had abused its dominant position.

"The General Court also largely confirmed the fine that the European Commission imposed on Google and Alphabet and set it at €4.125bn."

Google did not return a request for comment from Yahoo Finance UK at the time of writing.

Read more: Apple and Google targeted by UK competition watchdog over 'duopoly' in mobile markets

It comes as the European Commission has been cracking down on tech firms to ensure a level playing field in the 27-member trading union.

In 2018, the EC's Vestager, issued a decision accusing Google of imposing illegal restrictions on Android manufacturers and mobile network operators "to cement" its dominant dominance in internet search.

Google said that Android has created more choice than any other mobile platform when it comes to users deciding which applications they use in previous comments on the case, criticising the decision as out of tune with the economic reality of mobile software platforms.

Both parties can appeal the ruling.

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