Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners is reporting that on April 17, 2017 the Arbitrazh Court of Moscow approved a settlement agreement between Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service and the Google and Yandex corporations, thereby bringing an end to a dispute which had run for more than two years. Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners (EPAM) represented Yandex in the dispute.
According to EPAM, "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."
According to an EPAM press release, in the fall of 2015 the firm "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." (That story was initially reported by CEE Legal Matters on October 14, 2015 and then updated on August 22, 2016).
The firm's press release continued that "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 Arbitrazh Court of Moscow, 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.
According to EPAM, "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 programs according to their own taste."
The EPAM team representing Yandex as legal consultants included Partners Denis Arkhipov and Natalia Korosteleva, Counsel Evgeny Bolshakov, Senior Associate Oleg Bouiko, and Associate Oxana Akhmedova.