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Google’s Russian Android Antitrust Appeal Just Failed

Google's Android mobile OS.Google's Android mobile OS.
Google's Android mobile OS.Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google will have to fully comply with an antitrust ruling against it in Russia, a Russian court said as it rejected Google’s appeal.

The case involved Android and the restrictions that Google (GOOG) placed on manufacturers and other players in the Android ecosystem in order to ensure that its services stayed prominent on phones and tablets using the operating system.

The Ninth Arbitration Appeal Court said on Wednesday that it was backing up the ruling of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), so Google will have to change its contracts.

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Sources say the changes will need to come within eight days. Google has not yet indicated if it will fight on.

“The Appeal Court upheld the judgment of the Court of First Instance, confirming legitimacy of FAS decision and determination,” said FAS’s Elena Zaeva in a statement. “Google now must execute the determination in full within the designated period. We are confident that executing the determination will create fair conditions for efficient competition on the fast-growing market of mobile applications.”

FAS said on Tuesday that it and Google had failed to agree an out-of-court settlement in the case, which is not surprising given a settlement would have involved Google admitting that it violated Russian antitrust laws.

Although the fine it faces in Russia is pretty small for a company of its size—$6.85 million—Google is currently trying to defend itself against a very similar set of charges in the European Union. So fessing up in Russia would mean undermining itself in the EU case, and the fine there could be much larger.

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Both cases involve Google’s requirement that manufacturers using its Play app store also have to preinstall its other core services. The EU has also charged Google over its payments to device manufacturers and carriers for making Google the default search engine—in Russia, FAS ruled that Google had illegally made its default search status a precondition for using the Play Store.

The Russian case followed complaints by Yandex (YNDX), Google’s biggest competitor in the country. Yandex recently claimed that FAS’s ruling has already helped it get new distribution deals for its Google-rivalling Android services, although it’s not clear how that could be the case when Google has so far been resisting complying with the ruling.

Google had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.