Google has lodged a complaint accusing the antitrust body in India of issuing directives to modify its business model solely for the purpose of safeguarding its competitor, Amazon. The legal documents reveal that Amazon had raised concerns about its struggles to develop a modified version of the Android system due to restrictions imposed by Google. In response, Google has taken the matter to the Supreme Court of India, seeking to invalidate the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) order from October. The CCI had found that Google had abused its dominant position in the market with its Android operating system and had asked the company to make ten changes to its business model. Google’s recent filing with the Supreme Court indicates an escalating disagreement with the CCI’s handling of the Android investigation.
In a previous filing with a lower tribunal in December, Google had alleged that CCI officers had “copypasted” sections of a European ruling against the company in a similar case, but the CCI denied these claims.
The CCI’s October order, which also imposed a fine of $163 million on Google, required the company to permit the distribution of modified versions of its Android operating system, known as Android forks, without any licensing restrictions, including pre-installation of Google apps.
During the investigation, Amazon informed the CCI that Google’s restrictions hindered the development of its Android fork called Fire OS. Google argues in its Supreme Court filing that the CCI unfairly relied on Amazon’s complaint when making its adverse decision against Google. According to Google, Amazon’s lack of attempts to compete in India was labeled a failure by the CCI, which was attributed to Google’s agreements.
Google stated in its filing that Fire OS had not succeeded commercially globally and was not even launched in India, suggesting that the CCI’s directives were intended solely to protect Amazon’s interests.
Google declined to provide a comment due to the ongoing legal proceedings, while Amazon also refrained from commenting. The CCI has not responded to Google’s court filing, and the case is scheduled to be heard in the coming days.
Google has faced concerns over the CCI’s Android decision, as the directives were perceived as more far-reaching than those imposed by the European Commission in its 2018 ruling against Google’s abuse of the Android market. Google has challenged both the South Korean and European orders.
In its October ruling, the CCI stated that its investigators had found that Google’s contractual restrictions had limited the ability and motivation of device manufacturers to develop and sell devices operating on Android forks, thereby harming consumer interests.
Amazon disclosed to Indian investigators that the creation of Fire OS as an Android fork required significant resources, including thousands of employee hours.
Google is currently arguing in India’s Supreme Court against any penalty and asserting that it did not abuse its market position. The CCI, in a separate filing, has stated its expectation for Google to comply with all of its directives.
Following the CCI’s order, Google has implemented significant changes to its Android business model in India. While a lower tribunal upheld the penalty and confirmed Google’s abuse of market position, the company continues to contest the decision in the Supreme Court.