Google To Appeal Against Russian Antitrust Ruling

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Earlier this year, Google was accused by the Moscow, Russia-based search engine operator, Yandex NV, of violating Russian antitrust laws by allegedly insisting that manufacturers must pre-install its services on their Android devices. In September, Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) ruled in favor of the home-grown company, thereby dealing a significant blow to the prospects of the US-based tech giant in a country where the American search giant has steadily increased its market share over the past couple of years from a lowly 34 percent in January 2014 to almost 42 percent in August 2015, fuelled largely by the growth in mobile search. The Russian antitrust regulator gave Google until the 18th of December to comply with the ruling and change the applicable contractual terms with its OEM partners in Russia.

Google had maintained a studied silence on this issue thus far, and apart from expected protestations of innocence, had not made any far-reaching statements on the issue hoping not to further aggravate an already volatile situation. However, the company has now officially broken its silence, and asserted that it will contest the FAS ruling in a court of law, calling the allegations of impropriety and abuse of market dominance, “unfounded”. According to a post on Google’s official Russian blog, the company says, “We intend to contest this decision and explain in court why we consider it unfounded”. Yandex meanwhile, exuded confidence, saying, “Yandex is confident in every point of its position. We are ready for the appeal and welcome the most open trial”.

Yandex recently revealed that it has appealed to the European Commission to investigate Google over concerns that the company was unfairly leveraging its dominant position in mobile operating systems (with Android, of course), to push its search services by bundling Google search with all devices running on Android. A spokesman for Google, as expected, has refuted the allegations in no uncertain terms, saying, “Device makers are free to use Android with or without Google applications and consumers have complete freedom to use rival applications”. Google is fighting multiple antitrust charges in Europe from many quarters, as regards two of its most widely used products – search and Android.