Google Takes Android Antitrust Challenge To Indian Supreme Court

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Google challenges Indian antitrust regulator’s directives on Android dominance in Supreme Court as it looks to protect key market

Google has confirmed it is making a case with India’s Supreme Court that antitrust directives against it for abusing the country’s Android market should be reversed.

The company confirmed an earlier Reuters report that it is also seeking the cancellation of a fine levied against it by India’s competition authority, the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

Google’s arguments in a filing on Monday with the Supreme Court relate to a CCI decision last October that found the company had abused its dominant position in the country’s smartphone market of 600 million devices, 97 percent of which are powered by Android.

The CCI ordered Google to remove restrictions it imposes on device makers, including those related to the pre-installation of apps, and levied a fine of $163 million (£128m), which Google paid.

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Image credit: Asif Methar/Pexels

Court challenge

In March a tribunal gave partial relief by setting aside four of the 10 CCI directives.

Google in its Monday filing asks the Supreme Court to set aside the remaining six directives, while also arguing it did not abuse its market position and should not be liable to pay a penalty.

In a statement the company confirmed the reported filing and said it is looking forward to presenting its case and showing how Android benefits users and developers.

In its challenge the US search and advertising giant argues the Indian tribunal ruled authorities must prove harm caused by anticompetitive behaviour but did not apply this requirement to the six Android directives that it declined to set aside.

Alleged non-compliance

The CCI has also approached the Supreme Court and asked it to reverse the tribunal’s decision to grant relief, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed source.

Since the October CCI decision Google has made changes to the way it licenses Android in India, including giving phone makers more control over the pre-installation of apps and introducing a new in-app billing system.

In April an association of Indian start-ups said the new billing system introduced “unsustainable” fees and was not in compliance with the CCI’s directives.

The CCI decision echoes a landmark 2018 EU antitrust decision on Android, but its remedies go further than those mandated by the EU.