The company “could not have known its conduct was an abuse” when it struck contracts with Android mobile phone makers that required them to take its search and web-browser apps, Google lawyer Genevra Forwood told the EU’s General Court in Luxembourg.
The search-giant’s power over mobile phones is the focus of a week-long court hearing. Google’s lawyers are arguing that the European Commission blundered by demanding changes to allegedly anti-competitive contracts with suppliers of phones running its Android operating system -- the engine room for the vast majority of mobile devices in the region.
At the very least the court should “dial down” the fine, an EU record, because it was wrongly based on advertising revenue from Google’s home page that isn’t directly linked to Android phones at the heart of the EU’s decision, Forwood said.
The European Commission’s lawyer, Anthony Dawes, scoffed at Google’s plea, saying the fine was a mere 4.5% of the company’s revenue in 2017, well below a 10% cap.
The size of the fine was aimed at “deterring” companies from such behavior and the tech firm “could not have been unaware of the anti-competitive nature of its conduct,” he said. Offenses “committed negligently are not less serious than those that are committed intentionally.”
Forwood also argued that officials increased the fine with a “gravity factor” far higher than that of Intel Corp. for behavior that was not intentional and was less harmful.
“We are not aware of any other case where legitimate conduct becomes abusive overnight,” Forwood said.
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