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Google fined $4b after Euro court snips 5% off earlier price

Search giant’s appeal lands flat as fine imposed for anticompetitive practice in Android search

The European General Court has imposed a €4.125 billion (about $4.13 billion) fine on Google, largely upholding an earlier ruling on the ad-tech giant's anticompetitive practices in mobile search.

The court confirmed [PDF] the European Commission's decision that Google foisted unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of devices based on the Android operating system and mobile network operators in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine and browser.

In July 2018, Europe's competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, fined Google €4.34bn (c $4.34b) for using Android to strengthen its search monopoly.

Google has since made changes to the mobile OS.

The commission objected to three practices in particular: the requirement to preinstall Google Search and Chrome, payments to phonemakers to make Google Search the default, and restrictions on creating "forks" of Android, which at the time was estimated to be installed on 80 percent of mobile devices in Europe. By October of the same year, the company had decided to appeal the decision.

The action brought by Google has now been largely dismissed by the General Court, which only annulled the decision relating to Google's use of so-called portfolio-based revenue share agreements with smartphone manufacturers for the pre-installation of Google Search.

"General Court considers it appropriate, as did the Commission, to take account of the intentional nature of the implementation of the unlawful practices and of the value of relevant sales made by Google in the last year of its full participation in the infringement," the court said in a statement.

Responding to the latest ruling, Google said it was "disappointed" by the verdict. "Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world," Google said.

It has turned into a difficult week at the search behemoth: lawyers have launched an action which alleges anticompetitive conduct in relation to ad tech in Europe, a move which could see a fine of up to €25 billion ($25.4 billion) meted out to the search giant and the company – along with Facebook parent Meta – was fined $70m for privacy violations in Korea. ®

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