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Indian Appeals Court Upholds $160m Fine on Google for Market Dominance

 |  March 7, 2024
National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in India has upheld a significant $160 million fine imposed on Google by the country’s antitrust regulator, the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The ruling stems from a case centered on Google’s dominant position in the Android market, where more than 95% of Indian smartphones operate on the Android system.

The NCLAT’s decision affirms the CCI’s findings, deeming Google liable for engaging in “unfair” business practices to exploit its market dominance. However, the appellate tribunal did set aside four of the ten antitrust directives initially imposed on the tech giant.

The legal saga dates back to October when the CCI accused Google of leveraging its dominant position within the Android ecosystem, per BBC. Alongside the hefty fine, the commission mandated several changes, including allowing users to select their default search engine and preventing Google from requiring manufacturers to pre-install its entire suite of apps on Android devices.

Read more: Indian Startup Alliance Urges Antitrust Watchdog to Reprimand Google

This case echoes similar antitrust battles Google has faced, notably in Europe, where regulators imposed a staggering $5 billion fine for similar accusations of exploiting the Android operating system to gain an unfair advantage in the market.

Google challenged the fine and directives in India’s Supreme Court, arguing against the “far-reaching changes” requested by the CCI. Despite Google’s plea, the top court declined to block the directives, allowing the lower courts to proceed with the appeal process.

In January, Google announced its willingness to cooperate with the watchdog, signaling a willingness to make changes to its Android system in India. However, the recent ruling by the NCLAT suggests that Google can still retain control over certain aspects of its ecosystem. Notably, the tech giant can prevent users from removing pre-installed apps from their devices and maintain restrictions on app downloads outside of its Play Store.

Source: BBC