Google – EU competition law breach accusations

The European Commission sent a statement of objections to the tech firm, alleging that it has breached EU competition law.

Google is accused of placing onerous requirements on firms using Android and stifling competition.

Google has 12 weeks within which to reply and, if found to be abusing its dominant position, could face large fines and have to change its practices with respect to companies opting to obtain a licence to use its apps on their products (smartphones).

Read the BBC article here.

Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Unioni prohibits abuses of dominant positions as follows:

Any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the internal market or in a substantial part of it shall be prohibited as incompatible with the internal market in so far as it may affect trade between Member States.

Such abuse may, in particular, consist in:

(a) directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions;

(b) limiting production, markets or technical development to the prejudice of consumers;

(c) applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage;

(d) making the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

In particular, under established case law, a dominant position has been defined as:

[…] a position of economic strength enjoyed by an undertaking which enables it to prevent effective competition being maintained on the relevant market by giving it the power to behave to an appreciable extent independently of its competitors, customers and ultimately of its consumers.

In general a dominant position derives from a combination of several factors which, taken separately, are not necessarily determinative.

This definition has now been adopted widely as the concise definition on which dominance is assessed in case law.

The Court of Justice of the European Union publishes its case law here.

By Geraldine Spiteri

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Posted in: BusinessCompetitionLegal DevelopmentsTechnology

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