A landmark case in the digital segment in Russia was resolved on 19th January 2022, with the Moscow Arbitration Court approving the settlement agreement between Yandex, the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia (FAS) and the claimants in a dispute over unequal conditions promoting Yandex’s own search results, rather than searches provided by third-party services . Yandex unfairly prioritized its own searches through the exclusive use of enriched search capabilities.
The case saw the FAS address the serious threat of the tech giant potentially monopolizing all segments of the digital market. The decision is watched closely not solely by Russian market participants, but regulatory bodies and tech firms across the world. EPAM worked on the terms of the settlement agreement alongside the regulator, developing a unique mechanism that, on the one hand, preserves Yandex's ability to develop its search, and on the other, puts its services and the services of any third parties on an equal footing, ensuring that the Russian search-market continues to develop.
“This dispute could have dragged on for years, instead, we have a decision that signals a clear victory for the principles of competition here and now. We firmly believe that the unique settlement arrived at, will serve as industry standard, and will become best practice globally” said Natalia Korosteleva, the head of the competition practice at EPAM.
The FAS issued a warning to Yandex, and subsequently initiated the case to stop the search engine’s discriminatory practices, following EPAM’s petition on behalf of the web-companies’ coalition. The settlement agreement that was eventually agreed, ensures that the whole market gains access to all search optimisation tools and have equal and transparent conditions for their use. It further provides for effective mechanisms to control Yandex’s enriched search functions.
“Yandex continues to develop search enrichment methods, but now on equal terms with third parties. In turn, the FAS has shown both an expert approach to analyzing the situation and a strong focus on finding a practical solution to the problem, taking into account the needs of the market to ensure competition in the industry in the shortest possible time”, noted Evgeny Bolshakov, partner at EPAM.
The web-companies coalition was represented by a team of lawyers from EPAM’s Competition and Litigation practices. It was led by Partners Natalia Korosteleva and Evgeny Bolshakov and included Anna Arutyunyan (Counsel), Alexander Kiselev and Igor Gavrilov (Senior Associates), Oxana Akhmedova (Lawyer) and Anastasia Berbeneva (Junior Associate).