GOOGLE  V.  Competition Commission of India


CASE COMMENT 

BY: POONAM


INTRODUCTION

FACTS OF THE CASE

According to Section 19(1)(a) of the Competition Act of 2002, the “Informants” filed a complaint against Google LLC and Google India Private Limited (collectively referred to as “Opposite Parties” or “Google”), alleging, among other things, that Google abused its dominant position in mobile operating system markets in violation of Section 4 of the Competition Act. Google LLC (formerly Google Inc.), a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., is a Delaware limited liability corporation that focuses on search, advertising, operating systems, platforms, and enterprise services. Google offers a number of IT services, including online search, which is accessible via applications and partner websites. Google also provides advertising services and operates several platforms, including Chrome, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps, Android, Google Play, and YouTube. Google India Private Limited, a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. and Google LLC, is also involved in these initiatives. The informants allege that Google abuses its dominant power by: (1) requiring smartphone and tablet makers to preinstall only Google’s own applications or services to access any component of GMS, impeding the development and market access of competing mobile applications or services; (2) bundling specific Google applications and services with additional ones, preventing the development and market entry of competing applications and services; and (3) prohibiting Indian manufacturers

ISSUES OF  THE CASE

Issue I: Is the mandatory pre-installation of the whole GMS suite under MADA regarded an imposition of unfair conditions on device manufacturers, violating Sections 4(2)(a)(i) and 4(2)(d) of the Act?

Issue II: Has Google maintained its dominant position in the online search industry, thereby excluding competing search apps in contravention of Section 4(2)(c) of the Act?

Issue III: Did Google use its dominating position in the Play Store to strengthen its dominance in online general search, violating Section 4(2)(e) of the Act?

Issue IV: Did Google engage in abusive activity by linking the Google Chrome App to the Play Store, violating Section 4(2)(e) of the Act?

Issue V: Did Google engage in oppressive activity by linking the YouTube App to the Play Store, violating Section 4(2)(e) of the Act?

JUDGEMENT

COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA

In line with Section 27 of the Act, the CCI assessed fines on Google and ordered the corporation to stop infringing Section 4. To back up these assertions, it is critical to define the important markets in which the company operates, taking into account both product and geography. Market power and dominating position are assessed, with emphasis on whether the business can function independently of competition. The assessment seeks to identify true competitors capable of restricting behavior.

Market definition takes into account aspects such as product interchangeability, pricing, and consumer preferences in order to comprehend competitive restrictions. When examining dominant position, the qualities stated in Section 4 are considered to evaluate if the company has a large market influence.

The obligation for device manufacturers to pre-install the whole Google Mobile Suite (GMS) under MADA puts them at a disadvantage because they cannot delete it, despite their prominent position.

NATIONAL COMPANY LAW APPELLATE TRIBUNAL

Following the NCLAT verdict, Google filed an appeal contesting the CCI’s finding that it misused its dominant position in the Android mobile device ecosystem. Google contended that the decision will hurt Indian users and raise the cost of such gadgets in the nation.

However, the Honorable Tribunal rejected to award a stay of execution for the CCI sentence. It stated that it would issue an order only after consulting with all parties involved. Additionally, Google was ordered to pay 10% of the penalty amount.

SUPREME COURT

Google petitioned the Honorable Supreme Court, challenging the NCLAT’s order. The Supreme Court stated in its conclusion that while the appeal is still ongoing before the NCLAT, it is inappropriate to render a decision on the merits of the arguments offered by the parties. Providing an opinion on the merits at this time may have an impact on the continuing proceedings before the NCLAT. The Supreme Court stressed that the CCI’s judgments cannot be viewed as lacking jurisdiction or including an obvious error that necessitates intervening in the appeal at the interim stage. The Supreme Court asked the NCLAT to determine the dispute by March 31, 2023.

DEFECTS OF THE LAW

The lawsuit was governed by the Competition Act of 2002. It particularly addressed the widespread occurrence of anticompetitive activity and cartels’ abuse of dominating market positions. These cartels, which are frequently supported by political authorities, have significant power over smaller firms, resulting in negative effects on competition. Unfortunately, smaller producing firms sometimes choose not to raise concerns about such misbehavior, aggravating the market’s unequal structure.

CONCLUSION

The ongoing litigation concerns claims against Google for abusing its dominating position in the Indian market, which are comparable to issues seen in Europe. The European General Court has penalized Google for infringing Article 102 of the TFEU and Article 54 of the European Economic Area Agreement, citing anticompetitive contractual constraints imposed on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators.

Similarly, Google has used India’s vague interpretation of competition laws to its benefit. Compliance with the CCI’s decision would entail extensive changes to Google’s policies regarding the Play Store and third-party businesses, posing a difficult task to the internet giant. Implementing these rules may result in financial losses for Google and serve as a disincentive to other tech behemoths dominating the industry.

Following the decision in Google LLC v Competition Commission of India, an important precedent has been set for individuals who violate India’s competition laws. Google’s obvious misuse of its dominating position, as demonstrated by the required pre-installation of Google apps for Android users, leaves no room for alternative service providers. As a result, the fine imposed on Google is justified, considering its abuse and exploitation of market dominance to restrict both major and minor market participants.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Aneesh Raj & Chirantan Kashyap, Abuse of dominance: An analysis of CCI order in Google case. CBCL(Centre for Business & Commercial Laws).
  2. Aarti Sonawane, Google V. Competition Commission of India- A Case Review. Mondaq(Connecting knowledge & People).June 07, 2023
  3. Kashish Awtani, Abuse of Dominant Position By Google Case Analysis of Google V. CCI. Brain Booster Articles. May 7, 2023
  4. ICSI.EDU. CCI Imposed penalty on google for abusing dominant position- A case analysis. November 2022. 
  5. Business Standards. refuses to stay CCI’s order of Rs 936 crore penalty on Google. NCLAT, January 28 2023
  6. Padmakshi Sharma.Will Same Steps Taken In Europe Be Followed In India?’: Supreme Court Asks Google In Challenge To CCI Order Over Android Dominance.  Live Law, 16 January 2023. 

GURU GOBIND SINGH INDRAPRASTHA UNIVERSITY

University School Of Law And Legal Studies

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 Case Comment:  Google V. CCI

Programme – BA LLB(HONS) 

Semester – IV

Submitted to :                                                               Submitted by: 

Amikus Qriaee                                            Poonam