Google has told an Indian tribunal that the country’s antitrust investigators copied parts of a European ruling against the company for abusing its market dominance with its Android operating system, arguing that the decision should be overturned, according to court documents.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) fined Alphabet Inc’s Google $161 million in October for abusing its dominant position in markets such as online search and the Android app store, and asked it to change pre-installing app restrictions imposed on smartphone makers.
According to Reuters, Google was concerned about the Indian decision in October because the remedies ordered were seen as more sweeping than the European Commission’s landmark 2018 ruling for imposing illegal restrictions on Android mobile device makers.
In that case, Google has challenged a record 4.1 billion euro ($4.3 billion) fine.
Google claims that the CCI’s investigation unit “copied extensively from a European Commission decision, deploying evidence from Europe that was not examined in India” in a filing to an Indian appeals tribunal.
“There are more than 50 instances of copypasting”, in some cases “word-for-word”, and the watchdog erroneously dismissed the issue, Google said in its filing which is not public but has been reviewed by Reuters.
“The Commission failed to conduct an impartial, balanced, and legally sound investigation … Google’s mobile app distribution practices are pro-competitive and not unfair/ exclusionary.”
There were no comments on the issue from spokespeople for the CCI and European Commission.
Google said in a statement it decided to appeal the CCI’s decision as it believes “it presents a major setback for our Indian users and businesses”. In its filing, it made no mention of the allegations of copy-pasting.
Google has requested that the CCI’s order be overturned, and the case will be heard on Wednesday.
The Indian competition ruling comes at a time when Google is facing increased antitrust scrutiny around the world. Google licenses its Android operating system to smartphone manufacturers, but critics claim it imposes anti-competitive restrictions.
According to the US company, Android has increased choice for everyone, and such agreements help keep the operating system free.
According to Counterpoint Research, 75% of Europe’s 550 million smartphones run Android, compared to 97% of India’s 600 million devices.
In October, the CCI ruled that Google’s Play Store licensing “shall not be linked with the requirement of pre-installing” Google search services, the Chrome browser, YouTube, or any other Google applications.
Google claims in its appeal that the CCI only found antitrust violations related to the Google search app, Chrome browser, and YouTube, but that its order “extends beyond” that.
Separately, Google has filed an appeal against another Indian antitrust decision in which it was fined $113 million for restricting third-party billing or payment processing services in India. The appeal is still pending.
(Adapted from USNews.com)