The Competition Practice team of Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners successfully defended the interests of the largest Russian IT company Yandex against Google’s market abuse in relation to pre-installed app stores for devices on the Android operating system.
In February 2015, Yandex appealed to the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia (FAS Russia) with complaints of violations of the Russian antimonopoly legislation by Google, an American corporation. According to Yandex, Google’s actions led to manufacturers’ failure to pre-install apps from developers other than Google on mobile devices with the Android operation system. Thus Google limited the competition in terms of mobile applications for Android devices.
Following the proceedings, on September 18, 2015, FAS of Russia reached the decision that Google infringed the antitrust laws by abusing its dominant position, and prescribed to make changes in all existing agreements and treaties that contain any requirements for pre-installation of Google apps by November, 18, 2015.
In addition, the FAS ordered Google to notify users about the option of de-activating the preinstalled Google apps, the option to change the default search engine in Google Chrome browser, installation of a different search widget or other apps similar to those within the Google package, as well as the option to rearrange the positon of the app icons on the screen of the devices.
This outcome is of great importance for the market. At its core, the FAS decision establishes fair rules of the game, ensuring free competition between developers, whose applications and services compete with Google products, as well as helping to protect the interests of the mobile app manufacturers and direct users.
Counsel Evgeny Bolshakov and Denis Gavrilov, Associates Oxana Akhmedova and Grigory Shafeev, and Junior Associate Igor Gavrilov, as supervised by Partner, Head of Competition Practice Natalia Korosteleva, advised Yandex.
“This dispute is certainly a milestone – we are talking about the largest world player using global anti-competitive practices aimed at excluding its competitors. The FAS decision and improvement notice look balanced and reasonable. It is known that a similar investigation against Google is now underway in Europe. Hopefully, the FAS conclusions will be also reflected in the European Commission’s decision,” says Natalia Korosteleva.