Google seeks new shield for Android in Brussels battle
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.