On 17 April 2017 Arbitrazh Court of Moscow district approved a settlement agreement between the Federal Antimonopoly Service and the Google and Yandex corporations, thereby bringing to an end a dispute which had run for more than two years. With the settlement agreement the parties succeeded in finding an acceptable arrangement for managing the consequences of violations of antimonopoly law previously identified by the FAS, and ensuring competition on mobile app market – for mobile search apps in particular.
In Autumn 2015, a team of Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners' Competition Law Practice lawyers successfully defended the interests of Yandex, which had been violated by the activities of Google. Following an antimonopoly case, Google’s practices in relation to preset mobile apps were found to be in violation of antimonopoly law. In accordance with the ruling, Google was obliged to remove prohibitions and limitations on preset apps from its competitors, including default search apps, and to inform its users of this change and to safeguard third-party rights relating to access to Android devices in the future.
Google initiated a range of judicial and administrative proceedings to contest the findings of the FAS. In this context, it should be hailed as a positive development that joint negotiations resulted in agreement on a series of compensatory measures, and alternative regulation according to which Google’s current practices can be considered permissible.
In accordance with the settlement agreement approved by the Court, Google will not apply prohibitions or limitations on pre-set apps from third parties. All developers will be granted access to the devices, and in particular, the right to have their apps pre-set on devices in parallel with apps from Google.
An undoubted advantage for the Russian market is the provision of the settlement agreement that end-users will be given the option to choose an alternative, Russian-based search as their default search engine. The selection window will be implemented gradually for existing and new devices, so that within a matter of months users of all devices with the Android operating system will be provided with a window allowing them either to confirm or to change their search engine. An analogous approach based on including such a window was previously applied by the European Commission following a case involving the Microsoft corporation, which served to demonstrate its effectiveness.
The primary value of the settlement agreement is that it achieves a synergetic effect: app developers will be given an equal opportunity to access Android devices, and end-users the opportunity to choose programmes according to their own taste.
A joint team of Litigation and Competition Law Practices of the Firm represented Yandex as legal consultants, including Partners Denis Arkhipov and Natalia Korosteleva, Counsel Evgeny Bolshakov, Senior Associate Oleg Bouiko, and Associate Oxana Akhmedova.