The European Court of Justice upholds the antitrust decision against Google, but reduces the fine

The EU flag is seen with the Google logo.

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The European Union’s Court of Justice on Wednesday upheld an antitrust ruling against Google’s parent company Alphabet, but reduced the fine to 4.125 billion euros ($4.12 billion) from 4.34 billion euros.

The dispute between Google and the EU courts concerns whether it uses the Android operating system to stop competition, and was initiated against the company in 201[ads1]5.

The court said it “largely confirms the European Commission’s decision that Google imposed illegal restrictions on Android mobile device manufacturers and mobile network operators in order to consolidate the dominant position of the search engine.”

In a statement provided to CNBC, Google said: “We are disappointed that the court did not overturn the decision in its entirety. Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world.”

The first fine was issued by the European Commission in 2018 and was the largest ever received by Google. It said around 80% of Europeans used Android and that Google gave an unfair advantage to its apps, such as Chrome and Search, by forcing smartphone makers to pre-install them in a bundle with the Play app store.

Google claims that Android phones compete with iOS phones, Apple’s operating system, and that using Android still allows consumers to choose between phone manufacturer, mobile network operator and the ability to remove Google apps and install others.

In Wednesday’s judgment, the Court said that the new fine was “appropriate in view of the significance of the infringement”.

It highlighted that Google’s business model is “primarily based on increasing the number of users of its online search services, so that it can sell its online advertising services,” while Apple focuses on selling high-end smart mobile devices.

Google claims that this makes it possible to keep most of its services free.

The company can still appeal the ruling in the EU’s highest court.

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