By Aditya Kalra and Munsif Vengattil
NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – Google has told an Indian court that the country’s antitrust investigators copied parts of a European ruling against the US company for abuse of market dominance in its Android operating system, arguing that the decision should be annulled, according to legal documents.
In October, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) fined Alphabet Inc.’s Google $161 million for exploiting its dominant position in markets such as Internet search and the Android application store and asked it to amend the restrictions imposed on mobile phone manufacturers regarding the pre-installation of applications.
Several sources told Reuters in October that India’s decision concerned Google as the remedies imposed were seen as broader than the European Commission’s landmark 2018 ruling for imposing illegal restrictions on makers of Android mobile devices. Google has challenged a record fine of 4.1 billion euros ($4.3 billion) in that case.
In its document filed with an Indian appeals court, Google argues that the ICC’s research department “copied extensively from a European Commission decision, using evidence from Europe that was not examined in India.”
“There are more than 50 cases of copying,” in some cases “word for word,” and the watchdog wrongly dismissed the issue, Google said in its proprietary document, which is not public but has been reviewed by Reuters.
“The Commission did not carry out an impartial, balanced and legally sound investigation. (…) Google’s mobile application distribution practices are pro-competitive and are not unfair or exclusive.”
Spokespersons for the ICC and the European Commission did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Google said in a statement that it had decided to appeal the ICC decision as it “presents a major setback for our Indian users and businesses.” Google did not comment on the copy-paste allegations.
Google has asked the court to set aside the ICC order and the hearing will be held on Wednesday.
The Indian court’s decision comes at a time when Google is facing increased antitrust scrutiny around the world. Google licenses its Android system to mobile phone makers, but critics say it imposes anti-competitive restrictions.
The American company affirms that Android has created more options for everyone and that these types of agreements help maintain the freedom of the operating system. In Europe, 75% of 550 million mobile phones run on Android, compared to 97% of 600 million devices in India, according to Counterpoint Research estimates.
The ICC ruled in October that Google’s licensing of its Play Store “shall not be tied to the requirement to pre-install” Google search services, the Chrome browser, YouTube or any other Google application.
In its appeal, Google alleges that the ICC only found antitrust violations related to Google’s search application, the Chrome browser and YouTube, but its order “goes beyond” that.
Separately, Google has also appealed another antitrust decision in which it was fined $113 million for restricting the use of third-party billing or payment processing services in India. The appeal has not yet been resolved.