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Google loses Android antitrust dispute in Russia

SEARCH GIANT Google has lost its Android anti-trust case in Russia to local rival Yandex and has agreed to allow rivals’ search engines and apps to be pre-installed on Android phones in the country. Russia’s Federal Anti-monopoly Service (FAS) 

According to Russia’s Federal Anti-monopoly Service (FAS), a voluntary settlement was reached with Google in the Moscow District Court of Arbitration. This agreement will require Google to allow Android licensees to pre-install applications that compete with Google’s own Android apps.

“To restore competition, FAS issued a prescription to Google to require the company to remove anti-competitive restrictions from its agreements with manufacturers,” claimed the organisation yesterday.

That agreement came after FAS levied a fine of just under 440 million rubles (£6.2m) against Google, forcing the company to the negotiating table. That came after a complaint from Yandex that it was unfairly excluded from the Android platform, filed in 2015

“According to the terms of the settlement agreement,” claims FAS, “Google will no longer demand exclusivity of its applications on Android-based devices in Russia; Google will be obliged not to restrict pre-installation of any competing search engines and applications (including on the default home screen).

“Google will refrain from stimulating pre-installation of the Google search as the only general search engine; Google will no longer enforce the parts of the previously signed agreements that contradict the terms of the settlement; finally, Google will be committed to securing the rights of the third parties to include their search engines into the ‘choice window’.”

Google will also be obliged to craft a special update for existing users of Android devices in Russia, enabling them to choose a default search engine. The ‘choice screen” in future Russian versions of Android will enable users to select Yandex, DuckDuckGo or any other search engine that signs “a commercial agreement on their inclusion to the choice screen” instead of Google.

Yandex’s CEO was understandably delighted with the judgement. “I am thankful to the Federal Anti-monopoly Service for applying the law in a manner that effectively and efficiently restores competition to the market for the benefit of Russian users,” wrote Arkady Volozh.

“I also want to thank Google, not only for their cooperation but also for recognising the value of openness. We have always thought Google plays a constructive role in the Russian market. Competition breeds innovation. It’s our desire to participate in a market where users can choose the best services available.”  µ



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