Alphabet, Google’s parent company, had a major legal setback today (Sept. 14) after the E.U.’s General Court upheld an antitrust ruling finding the tech giant violated Europe’s competition law. Google did manage to reduce its fine, however, by a meager 5 percent, to $4.12 billion from $4.33 billion.
The dispute dates back to 2015 when the European Commission (E.C.), the E.U.’s executive branch, launched an investigation into whether Google used its Android operating system to quash competition in Europe’s online search and advertising business. The probe concluded in 2018 with the E.C. hitting Google with a fine of 4.3 billion euros ($5 billion at the time), the largest penalty ever imposed on an American company.
Google challenged the decision, contending its Android phones compete with Apple’s smartphones and that the Android system allows consumers a choice of phone makers and mobile network operators. In a statement today, Google said it’s disappointed at the court’s decision. The company can still appeal the ruling in the EU’s highest court.
Google faces a similar antitrust probe in the U.S. brought by the Justice Department in October 2020. The case is expected to go to trial in September 2023.