Google faces damage claims worth over Rs 3,000 crore from Czech web search company
Google is not new to the antitrust claims where rivals have alleged the search engine giant misuses its dominance in the market.
Google has often come under the scanner for having a privileged position in the market when it comes to offering internet-powered search services. The search engine giant is now facing damage claims from Seznam, which is an indigenous web search platform operational in the Czech Republic. The homegrown search engine company has claimed a whopping CZK 9.072 billion from Google. This compensation for damages is equal to $417 million and roughly Rs 3,000 crores.
According to a report by Reuters, Seznam has said that Google has abused dominance in the search domain in the Czech market leveraging the licensed operating system and application marketplaces for smart devices, running majorly Android. Android phones come preloaded with Google Play Store and other Google apps, making it less likely for consumers to download other apps from the app store. However, Google has repeatedly denied it misuses its dominant position as consumers always have a choice.
“Based on the European Commission’s decision back in 2018 which confirmed that Google was in breach with EU antitrust rules, we claim the compensation of damage that we have suffered while trying to distribute our applications and services via mobile devices with Android operation system,” Seznam deputy chairman Pavel Zima was quoted as saying in the Reuters report.
However, a Google spokesperson has refused to comment, saying that the company has not received any such claim, according to the report. But the company is denying the claims made by Seznam. It has said that Android consumers are not locked into Google’s catalogue. They always have the choice of visiting the Play Store and downloading any app they want. Moreover, Android users also have the option to sideload any app using the APK file, although Google does not recommend this method since the APK file could be potentially harmful to the device.
“Android provides people with unprecedented choice in deciding which applications they install, use and set as default on their devices, and enables millions of app developers around the world to build successful businesses,” Google was quoted as saying.
The claim made by Seznam is based on Google’s activities between 2011 and 2018. The notification for the compensation was sent to Google in the past few days with a deadline of 30 days, post which the company is said to take the legal route. Seznam will likely file a lawsuit against Google asking for damages.
Seznam enjoys a market share of 25 per cent in the Czech Republic. It said that its revenue in 2019 stood at CZK 4.69 billion, which translates to roughly Rs 1,600 crores while the company’s cumulative revenue since 2011 is about CZK 32 billion, which is nearly Rs 10,900 crores. Seznam is now pressing for a level playing field in the Czech Republic, but it is not alone.
In November, Reuters reported that a group of 165 companies and industry entities have urged the European Union to take strict action against Google. Google already faces hefty fines from regulators in Europe over market dominance and minimising the visibility of competitors in the market.
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