Wednesday, September 14, 2022

EU General Court materially affirms European Commission in Google Android antitrust case: major implications for Google Play Store investigation

This here is a very short post. I will do a follow-up in the coming days after having had the chance to digest the EU General Court's judgment that just came down and affirmed the European Commission's Google Android antitrust decision. The court issued a press release (PDF). The fine was adjusted slightly, but still amounts to well over 4 billion euros.

The part I wish to highlight here is that one key aspect of DG COMP's decision is the leverage Google gets from its control over Android app distribution--and the dominant market position of the Google Play Store. Today's judgment (which I'm sure Google will appeal) therefore also paves the way for formal EU antitrust investigations of Google's abusive conduct vis-à-vis app developers, a question the Commission is already preliminarily investigating.

DG COMP has now (apart from that minor adjustment) defended the second of its three Google antitrust rulings in court.

The Commission's victory is so significant that it will additionally impact antitrust cases and investigations in other jurisdictions. For an overview of what's going on around the globe, may I refer you to my previous post, in which I commented on antitrust complaints against the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store in Mexico, but also listed exemplary cases in various other countries. Despite significant differences between U.S. and EU antitrust law, today's judgment will benefit Epic Games and the 36 U.S. states suing Google over the Google Play Store in the Northern District of California.

In other Google antitrust news, class actions on behalf of publishers were announced yesterday in the UK and the Netherlands (whereas the Dutch case is not limited to one country, but plaintiffs are seeking damages on an EU-wide basis). The damages claims amount to approximately 25 billion euros. I'll also try to find out more about that.