PanamaTimes

Friday, Apr 19, 2024

Google vs. EU, Part 2: Record EU fine set for Wednesday ruling

Google vs. EU, Part 2: Record EU fine set for Wednesday ruling

The decision comes as officials are still licking their wounds after two other court defeats.

Round 2 of Google vs. the European Commission comes on Wednesday when the European Union's General Court rules on a record €4.34 billion fine for the search giant in a landmark case over its efforts to dominate the mobile phone market.

While the Commission won a resounding victory when judges upheld its first Google investigation last year, the ruling on Google's mobile-phone operating system Android will come as antitrust officials are licking their wounds after two big court defeats that canceled fines for chip firms Qualcomm and Intel.

“If they lose key parts of the Android case next week, it would be a really bad outcome for the Commission,” said Dirk Auer, director of competition policy at the International Center for Law & Economics, a U.S.-based research center backed by institutions and industry partners. “It could mean that almost [a] decade of competition enforcement, in this case, would be in part rejected by judges in Luxembourg.”

The Android case focuses on three types of contracts Google signed with smartphone manufacturers and telecom operators, which helped it expand a search empire that now faces very little competition.

First was the so-called mobile application distribution agreements (MADA) which required smartphone manufacturers to pre-install Google’s search and browser systems in order to carry the company’s Play Store app. Anti-fragmentation agreements (AFAs) also forced smartphone makers to steer clear of running alternative versions of the Android operation system. Lastly, the Commission took umbrage at Google’s revenue sharing agreements (RSAs) which allowed search revenues to be shared with mobile operators and smartphone manufacturers.

The Commission's investigation was sparked by a 2013 complaint from FairSearch, whose members include Oracle and Nokia and previously included Microsoft. The group is spearheaded by Thomas Vinje, a campaigning lawyer whose complaints helped fuel an EU antitrust battle against Microsoft in the early 2000s.


Sharing revenues


The Commission’s reading that Google’s revenue-sharing agreements amounted to a form of exclusivity rebate could be one of the more vulnerable parts of the Commission’s decision that Luxembourg will judge next week.

“The EU courts are concerned that the Commission is not properly discharging its burden of proof when it comes to showing anti-competitive effects,” Auer said, referring to the recent EU court losses against Intel and Qualcomm, both cases of which involved rebate payments to buyers for exclusive deals.

“The key question is the extent to which the coverage of those revenue-share agreements is sufficient to qualify as an infringement,” said FairSearch's Vinje. “It’ll be interesting to see how the court writes that up, since the evidence is confidential.”

Vinje also warned that the EU’s investigation into Google’s anti-competitive conduct may also have run into “procedural issues” akin to the Intel and Qualcomm cases — a plea raised by Google as part of a September hearing.

As part of the five-day showdown, Google said its rights of defense had been infringed upon as part of the Commission’s lackluster following of protocol. The company’s lawyers accused Brussels of not transcribing interviews properly, thereby hindering Google from rebutting any claims made by rivals in closed-door talks.


The DMA remedy


Google was ordered to remedy its anticompetitive harm over mobile apps for search and in 2018 introduced a choice screen for search apps to bid to be shown as an alternative to Google's search app on new phones.

Competing firms in the search business are now relying on the European Union’s recently adopted Digital Markets Act (DMA) to ensure they get the changes they originally sought, almost a decade after FairSearch’s original complaint was filed


Smaller rivals Qwant and DuckDuckGo complained that this didn't go far enough to give them a chance to take on Google's power over apps. While Google was eventually forced to ditch a paid auction system, the Commission didn't bow to rivals in overhauling the choice screen system completely or rolling it out to all phones or devices.

"DG COMP never consulted us proactively on the remedies. We had to publicly ask for it in an open letter,” a DuckDuckGo spokesperson said. “This ultimately led to limited improvements but since then we've had a constructive working relationship."

“The problem was that they didn't have a good remedy because they told Google to solve the problem itself,” added Alexandre De Streel, academic director at the Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE), whose members include Google and Microsoft, but also smaller companies such as DuckDuckGo.

Competing firms in the search business are now relying on the European Union’s recently adopted Digital Markets Act (DMA) to ensure they get the changes they originally sought, almost a decade after FairSearch’s original complaint was filed.

The rules — which will enter into force later this year — include forcing so-called gatekeepers such as Google to implement choice screens that allow users to change default settings when they first use a new system, as well as the obligation for firms not to prevent users from un-installing apps on their operating systems. Both concepts stem from the Android case.

“What the court will say next week could be interesting in interpreting those provisions,” De Streel said. “However, if the Commission loses aspects of the case, I don’t think it undermines the DMA, because it’s a different legal instrument that has the objective of ensuring contestability and fairness.”

For Vinje, the DMA is the ultimate answer.

"If the Commission were to lose on some of this, the DMA will kick in in the not-too-distant future and it’ll prohibit a lot of the same abuses,” he said.

The case number for the Google Android judgment is T-604/18.

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
×