Saturday, June 10, 2023

NCLAT upholds penalty of Rs 1,337 cr on Google by CCI for abusing its dominant position in Android market

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The appeal by Google against Competition Commission of India (CCI) order imposing a ₹1,337.76 crore fine on it for allegedly abusing its dominant position in the Android mobile ecosystem has been rejected by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday.

The Bench comprising of NCLAT Chairperson Justice Ashok Bhushan and Dr Alok Srivastava, Member noted that that the investigation conducted by CCI was not in violation of principles of natural justice as claimed by Google.

However, it set aside certain directions issued by the Commission.

The order has been reserved by NCLAT  in the matter on March 20. The Appellate Tribunal had earlier refused to grant any interim relief to Google.

It was then that the matter was escalated to Supreme Court, which also denied relief to the company.

However, it is important to mention that the apex court requested the NCLAT to decide the matter by March 31.

In addition to the penalty, the CCI also directed Google to stop from participating in anti-competitive practices and directed it to modify its conduct within a defined timeline.

The NCLAT has thus said that OEMs should not be forced to pre-install a bouquet of applications. It also added that OEM shall not be restrained from deciding the placement of pre-installed apps, on their smart devices;

NCLAT said that licensing of Play Store to OEMs shall not be linked with the requirement of pre-installing Google search services, Chrome, YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail or any other app

It further added that Google shall not offer any monetary or other incentives to OEMs for ensuring exclusivity for its search services.Along with that another important instruction is that Google shall not obligate OEMs for not selling smart devices based on Android forks.

Google shall not restrict uninstalling of its pre-installed apps by the users;

The most important point was that Google shall allow users, during the initial device setup, to choose their default search engine for all search entry points. Users should have the flexibility to easily set as well as easily change the default settings.

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