Google seeks new shield for An­droid in Brus­sels bat­tle

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By James Tit­comb in San Fran­cisco prima fa­cie

GOOGLE may take emer­gency le­gal mea­sures to pro­tect its An­droid mo­bile busi­ness as it ap­peals against its record EU fine in the com­ing days.

It is un­der­stood that the web gi­ant could try to de­lay Brus­sels’ sanc­tions set to come into force at the end of next month by ap­ply­ing for “in­terim mea­sures” with the EU court.

Google was fined €4.3bn (£3.8bn) in July af­ter Mar­grethe Vestager, Europe’s com­pe­ti­tion com­mis­sioner, said the com­pany had il­le­gally tied phone mak­ers into deals that forced them to in­stall its search en­gine and web browser if they wanted the “must have” Google Play app store. It has un­til Oct 10 to ap­peal. Google has said it dis­agrees with the fine and con­firmed it plans to chal­lenge the de­ci­sion in EU courts.

How­ever, the EU has also or­dered the com­pany to rem­edy its anti-com­pet­i­tive be­hav­iour by Oct 28.

An­droid, which is in­stalled on four in five phones sold in Europe, is given away to phone mak­ers for free, with Google re­ly­ing on its search en­gine and Chrome browser to make money from the op­er­at­ing sys­tem. Break­ing the deals that en­cour­age man­u­fac­tur­ers to in­stall its ser­vices would threaten the com­pany’s lu­cra­tive busi­ness model.

To pro­tect it­self, Google may ap­ply for in­terim mea­sures that would de­lay break­ing its con­tracts un­til any ap­peal is com­plete, a process that could take years. Com­pa­nies may ask for a de­lay if they can show that they would suf­fer “se­ri­ous and ir­repara­ble” harm.

Thomas Höpp­ner, a com­pe­ti­tion lawyer who rep­re­sents the Open In­ter­net Project, a group of in­ter­net firms that com­plained to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion about Google, said he would not ex­pect Google to try to de­lay the mea­sures. “The thresh­old for grant­ing that is quite high,” he said.

Mr Höpp­ner said Google would have to demon­strate a strong case – a good rea­son to be­lieve it would win its ul­ti­mate ap­peal – to suc­cess­fully ap­ply for in­terim re­lief.

Google de­clined to com­ment.

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