Google claims that the Indian antitrust authority copied parts of the EU decision on Android abuse

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  • India antitrust rulings latest setback for Google in key market
  • Google wants Indian antitrust decisions overturned
  • Indian watchdog copied parts of EU order, Google claims
  • Google says its conduct is not anti-competitive – filing

NEW DELHI, Jan. 3 (Reuters) – Google has told a tribunal in India that the country’s antitrust investigators copied parts of a European ruling against the US company for abusing the market dominance of its Android operating system, arguing that the decision must be destroyed, show legal documents.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) in October Google fined Alphabet Inc’s GOOGL.O $161 million for exploiting its dominant position in markets such as online search and the Android App Store, and requested that it change the restrictions placed on smartphone manufacturers regarding pre-installing apps.

Sources told Reuters in October Google was concerned on the Indian decision, as the measures offered were considered more drastic than the landmark 2018 ruling by the European Commission for imposing unlawful restrictions on Android mobile device manufacturers. Google has challenged a record fine of 4.1 billion euros ($4.3 billion) in that case.

In its filing with an Indian appellate court, Google argues that the CCI’s investigative unit “extensively copied and pasted from a European Commission decision, using evidence from Europe that was not investigated in India.”

“There are more than 50 cases of copypaste,” in some cases “word-for-word,” and the watchdog has wrongly dismissed the issue, Google said in its filing, which is not public but has been reviewed by Reuters.

“The Commission has not conducted an impartial, balanced and legally sound investigation… Google’s mobile app distribution practices are pro-competitive and not unfair/exclusive.”

Spokesmen for the CCI and the European Commission did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Google said in a statement that it decided to appeal the CCI’s decision because it believes “it is a major setback for our Indian users and businesses”. It has not commented on the copy-and-paste allegations in its filing.

Google has asked the tribunal to quash the CCI’s order and the case will be heard on Wednesday.

The Indian competition decision came as Google faced increased antitrust controls worldwide. Google licenses its Android system to smartphone makers, but critics say it imposes anti-competitive restrictions.

The American company says that Android has created more choice for everyone and that such agreements help keep the operating system free. In Europe, 75% of 550 million smartphones run Android, compared to 97% of 600 million devices in India, Counterpoint Research estimates.

The CCI ruled in October that Google’s license to its Play Store “should not be linked to the requirement of pre-installation” of Google search services, the Chrome browser, YouTube or other Google applications.

In its appeal, Google claims the CCI only found antitrust violations related to the Google search app, the Chrome browser, and YouTube, but that its order goes “beyond that.”

Separately, Google also appealed another Indian antitrust decision for which it was fined $113 million to limit using third party billing or payment processing services in India. The appeal has yet to be heard.

($1 = 0.9493 euros)

Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Munsif Vengattil; Additional reporting by Arpan Chaturvedi; Edited by Mark Potter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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