In a legal setback for Google, a court in Moscow has rejected the company’s appeal of an earlier ruling by Russia’s anti-monopoly regulator that it had broken the country’s fair competition laws.
The Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation (FAS) had last September charged Google with abusing its market dominance to force Android handset makers to preinstall Google apps on their devices while preventing other developers from doing the same.
The FAS, acting on a complaint by Russian Internet firm Yandex, held that Google’s practices constituted a violation of the country’s anti-monopoly laws. In its ruling, the agency gave Google a month to remove the restrictions that it said were preventing other developers from installing their apps on Android handsets.
Google appealed the decision, arguing as it always has in such situations, that its actions were fair and in no way constituted monopolistic behavior. The company has insisted that handset makers are free to preinstall applications of their choice and are not restricted to choosing apps from Google on their devices.
In a statement March 14, the FAS said that the Moscow Arbitration Court, with whom Google had filed the appeal last year, had rejected it. “The Moscow Arbitration Court found legal the decision of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (the FAS Russia) on case on Google’s abuse of dominance on the market [sic] of pre-installed app stores on the Android OS localized for the Russian Federation,” the agency said. “The Court fully supported the decision of the FAS Russia.”It is unclear what Google or the FAS will do now. In a statement to eWEEK, Google said it had not received the judgment yet and so was not prepared to comment.
The FAS has said that it is prepared to take administrative action if Google does not comply with its order to remove the alleged prohibition on other developers. Some have said that Google could end up facing a hefty fine if the company does not comply with what the FAS is asking it to do.
Yandex is one of Russia’s largest Internet search engine companies. The company last February filed a complaint against Google with the FAS. In it, Yandex asked the FAS to order Google to unbundle its Search application from other apps on Android. Yandex claimed that Google’s practice of requiring handset makers that wanted to preinstall Google Play on their devices to also install other Google apps and make Google the default search engine was unfair.
Google faces similar charges in other countries. The Competition Commission of India, for instance, is investigating complaints from Flipkart.com, Makemytrip.com and others that the company is abusing its market position to rank its own products and services higher than comparable products from rivals.
Brazil’s anti-monopoly regulator and those in Argentina and Canada similarly are looking into charges from several companies about Google allegedly misusing its market clout to unfairly prevent others from competing.