CCI Declines Interim Relief to Indian App Developers in Google App Billing Case

CCI Declines Interim Relief to Indian App Developers in Google App Billing Case
Photo: RBC 22.03.2024 256

Last week, CCI ordered an investigation into Google's user choice billing system following complaints from local developers.

In a setback for Indian app makers, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) on March 20 rejected their plea for interim relief against Google in the contentious Play Store billing policy case, Moneycontrol has learnt.

This development comes less than a week after the CCI passed an order noting that the tech giant's User Choice Billing (UCB) system 'prima facie' violates the Competition Act, 2002 on March 15.

The antitrust regulator also ordered the Director General (DG) to conduct an investigation, complete it and file a report regarding the same in 60 days.

In an order dated March 20, CCI stated that the app makers have not been able to demonstrate a case for the grant of interim relief over completely restraining Google from collecting its fees. 

"The informants (app makers) have also not been able to demonstrate as to how the impugned conduct would result in irreparable harm that cannot be remedied through monetary compensation. The Commission is also not persuaded that balance of convenience lies in favour of the Informants," 

as per the CCI order.

As per the CCI's latest order, Google contended that offering an interim relief to these developers would "virtually amount to requiring the company to offer Play for free to developers in India."

CCI stated that while it is essential to ensure a level playing field and protect competition within the app store market, any measures taken should be "proportionate and carefully crafted to minimise unintended consequences and preserve the overall integrity and functionality of the platform ecosystem."

In October 2022, CCI fined Google $113 million for abusing its dominant position in Google Play Store and demanded that the company not restrict app developers from using third-party payment processing services. Google has since allowed developers to use the user choice billing system. However, representatives of Indian startups believe that this is not a solution to the problem, but an attempt by the company to circumvent the CCI order. In their opinion, Google is trying to take advantage of its monopoly by charging 11-26% commission for using the UCB system.

Source: Moneycontrol

digital markets  India 

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