CCI’s Denial of Provisional Relief in Google Billing Dispute Poses Major Hurdle for Startups

Competition Commission of India, CCI

Three points you will get to know in this article:

  • CCI denies relief requests against Google’s fees.
  • Applicants fail to meet Supreme Court criteria.
  • CCI investigates Google’s high Play Store fees.

What is CCI?

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is the primary national regulatory authority for competition in India. It operates as a statutory body under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and is tasked with enforcing the Competition Act of 2002 to foster competition and deter activities that harm competition in India. The CCI examines cases and conducts investigations to address any detrimental effects on competition. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) also grants approval for mergers under the act to prevent the combined entities from dominating the market.

CCI Rejects Requests for Temporary Relief

The CCI stated in its decision that the parties, including People Interactive India Private Limited (the company behind and, Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF), Indian Digital Media Industry Foundation (IDMIF), and Mebigo Labs Private Limited (the creators of Kuku FM), did not meet the necessary criteria for temporary relief established by the Supreme Court. Three different groups filed requests, asking the Commission to stop Google from charging fees on transactions linked to paid downloads or in-app purchases for apps that offer digital goods or services.

The informant has also not shown how the alleged conduct would cause irreversible harm that cannot be addressed through monetary compensation. The Commission is also not convinced that the balance of convenience favors the informant.

Investigation Into Google

The competition watchdog recently ordered an investigation against Google for its high fees on the Play Store. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) found that Google’s Users Choice Billing (UCB) payments policy may violate the Competition Act 2002. Startups have been in a four-year dispute with Google over alleged anti-competitive behavior related to its dominance in the Android ecosystem and Google Play App Store.

App Removal and Reinstatement

On March 1, Google removed numerous apps from its app marketplace belonging to 10 companies, including Info Edge, People Interactive, and Matrimony, for violating billing policies. Following intervention from the Indian government, Google reinstated these apps on the Play Store.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) rejected businesses’ requests for temporary relief against Google’s fees, citing non-compliance with necessary criteria. The CCI initiated an investigation into Google’s high fees on the Play Store due to potential Competition Act violations, reflecting ongoing disputes with startups over anti-competitive behavior. Google’s Users Choice Billing policy is under scrutiny, following app removals and subsequent reinstatements after intervention from the Indian government. This series of events highlights the complex dynamics between tech giants, regulatory bodies, and businesses in the digital marketplace.

SA Team

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