Google claims the Indian antitrust authority copied parts of the EU regulation on Android abuse

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NEW DELHI, Jan 3 (Reuters) – Google has told a tribunal in India that the country’s antitrust investigators copied parts of a European ruling against the US firm for abusing its Android operating system’s dominance, arguing that the decision is repealed, legal documents show.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) in October fined Alphabet Inc.’s Google GOOGL.O US$161 million for abusing its dominant position in markets such as online search and the Android app store and urged them to respect the restrictions placed on smartphone manufacturers in terms of installed apps.

Sources told Reuters in October that Google was concerned about India’s decision because the remedies it ordered were seen as more far-reaching than the European Commission’s landmark 2018 ruling imposing unlawful restrictions on Android handset makers. Google has appealed a record fine of €4.1 billion ($4.3 billion) in the case.

In its filing with an Indian appeals court, Google argues that the investigative unit of the CCI “copied extensively from a European Commission decision and used evidence from Europe that was not examined in India”.

“There are more than 50 instances of copypasting,” in some cases “word for word,” and the watchdog erroneously dismissed the issue, Google said in its filing, which isn’t public but has been reviewed by Reuters.

“The Commission failed to conduct an impartial, balanced and legally sound investigation… Google’s mobile app distribution practices are pro-competitive and not unfair/exclusive.”

CCI and European Commission spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Google said in a statement it decided to appeal the CCI’s decision, believing it “represents a major setback for our Indian users and businesses.” It did not comment on the copy-paste allegations in its filing.

Google has asked the court to overturn the CCI’s order and the case will be heard on Wednesday.

The Indian competition ruling came as Google faced increased antitrust scrutiny around the world. Google licenses its Android system to smartphone makers, but critics say it imposes restrictions that are anti-competitive.

The US firm says Android has created more choice for everyone and such agreements help keep the operating system free. In Europe, 75% of 550 million smartphones run on Android, compared to 97% of 600 million devices in India, Counterpoint Research estimates.

The CCI ruled in October that Google’s licensing for its Play Store “must not be combined with a requirement to preinstall Google search services, the Chrome browser, YouTube or any other Google application.”

In its appeal, Google claims the CCI only found antitrust violations related to the Google search app, the Chrome browser and YouTube, but its order “broadens” that.

Separately, Google has also appealed another Indian antitrust decision that fined it $113 million for restricting its use of third-party billing or payment processing services in India. The appeal is yet to be heard.

($1 = 0.9493 euros)

Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Munsif Vengattil; Additional reporting by Arpan Chaturvedi; Editing by Mark Potter

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