Google’s appeal to have the $6.75 million slammed on it by Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service FAS upturned by a court in Russia has been turned down, reports local news agency Interfax (via Reuters).
A couple of days back, Google was fined $6.75 million by the FAS for violating its antitrust rules on mobile phones and tablets—a ruling that was issued in 2015. Yandex, Russia’s biggest search engine had filed a complaint against Google. In the appeal, Yandex complained about Google’s requirement for both tablet and smartphone for manufacturers to install Search, Maps, and other services as part of Google Play Store package.
The FAS had issued Google a one-month ultimatum last October to get rid of apps from phones—an order in which the company failed to comply with. Google, however, insisted that its reason for not complying with the order was based on how revenue generated from ads from the services it renders cover costs of providing its OS at no cost.
In regard to the fine, the Federal Antimonopoly Service issued the following statement, per TechCrunch:
“Investigating the case, FAS Commission established that “Google” provided Google Play application stores to its counteragents – vendors of mobile devices to be preset on the devices controlled by Android OS and intended for sale in the Russian Federation (mobile devices), under the conditions including mandatory preset of Google applications and the search system and their mandatory placement in the priority positions on device home pages.
“Actions undertaken by “Google” also led to prohibiting pre-set of applications from other vendors.
“We are convinced that executing the determination will enable competition development on the market of mobile software in Russia, which will have a favourable effect for consumers. All companies that supply products to the Russian Federation – including transnational corporations – must observe the Federal Law “On Protection of Competition””, pointed out Elena Zaeva, the Head of FAS Department for Regulation of Communications and Information Technologies.”
It is not clear what Google’s immediate plans are after Wednesday’s court ruling—as expected, the biggest beneficiary (Yandex) of the court’s decision is pleased with the outcome.
“We are satisfied with today’s Moscow Arbitration Tribunal decision. This decision confirms the FAS findings of the investigation into Google’s anti-competitive practices on Android,” a spokesman for Yandex said, per TechCrunch.
However, sources said Google has eight days to either comply with the earlier fine slammed on it by the FAS or risk another fine.
A host of stakeholders will be following this case with keen interest. Google is already being investigated by the European Union over similar issue bothering on its Android OS, which comes pre-installed with some apps. Google risks a heftier fine should the EC establish a case of unfair dominance be established against it.
“Our concern is that, by requiring phone makers and operators to pre-load a set of Google apps, rather than letting them decide for themselves which apps to load, Google might have cut off one of the main ways that new apps can reach customers,” Margarethe Vestager, the EC Commissioner said.
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