Google has lost its appeal against the EU’s $4 billion fine

The unit of US tech giant Alphabet challenged the earlier ruling, but Europe’s second highest court upheld the decision in a ruling on Wednesday and the fine was modestly reduced from 4.34 billion euros ($4.34 billion).

This is a record fine for an antitrust violation. The European Commission has imposed a total of €8.25 billion in fines on the world’s most popular internet search engine in three investigations spanning more than a decade.

It is Google’s second court defeat, the first of three, after it lost a challenge to a 2.42 billion euro ($2.42 billion) fine last year.

“The Supreme Court largely affirms the Commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on Android mobile device manufacturers and mobile network operators to strengthen its dominant search engine position,” the court said.

“To better reflect the severity and duration of the infringement, the General Court considers it appropriate, however, to impose a fine of 4.125 billion euros on Google, its reasoning differing in some aspects from the Commission’s,” said the judges.

Google, which can appeal legal issues to the European Court of Justice, Europe’s highest court, expressed its disappointment.

“We are disappointed that the Court did not overturn the decision in its entirety. Android has created more opportunities for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world,” a spokesperson said.

Anti-competitive drive

The ruling is a boost for EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager after setbacks in cases involving other tech giants. Intel (INTC) and Qualcomm (QCOM) this year

Vestager has made a crackdown on Big Tech a hallmark of her work, a move that has spurred regulators in the United States and elsewhere.

It is currently investigating Google’s digital advertising business, its Jedi Blue ad deal with Meta, of the apple (AAPL) App Store rules, Meta’s marketplace and data usage and Amazon’s (AMZN) online sales and market practices.

The Court agreed with the Commission’s assessment that the iPhone maker Apple was not in the same market and therefore could not be a restriction of competition against Android.

The court’s protection could bolster the EU’s antitrust watchdog in investigations into Apple’s business practices, which the regulator dominates in the music streaming market.

FairSearch, whose 2013 complaint sparked the EU case, said the ruling will further strengthen Vestager’s key tech rules to curb US tech giants, which will come into effect next year.

“This victory will encourage the Commission to enforce new regulations in place in Big Tech, the Digital Markets Act,” said attorney Thomas Vinje.

The commission said in its 2018 decision that Google used Android to strengthen its dominance in general Internet search through restrictions on large manufacturers and mobile network operators.

Google said it acted like many other businesses and that such payments and agreements help keep the Android operating system free, criticizing the EU’s decision as out of line with the economic reality of mobile software platforms.