Google antitrust woes: new South Korean probe, Russian court rejects appeal


Google continues to face mounting antitrust challenges around the globe. Beyond the three active complaints in Europe, directed at vertical search, Android OEM agreements and AdWords contracts, the company has lost an appeal in Russia and faces a new investigation in South Korea.

Last week South Korea officials said they’ve launched a formal antitrust investigation against Google. However they declined to disclose the nature of the investigation.

Also last week, a Russian court rejected an appeal by Google to overturn a nearly $7 million fine imposed by the Russian competition authorities. In September of last year Russian antitrust regulators determined that Google violated its competition laws by requiring Android phone makers to pre-install certain Google apps on Android as a condition of gaining access to the Google Play store. The complaint was initially brought by Yandex, which also filed a similar complaint in Europe.

It’s not entirely clear whether Google has exhausted its potential appeals in Russia. If not, it’s very close. Regardless, it appears likely that Google will be compelled to pay the fine and change its OEM agreements to remove the app pre-install clauses.

Interestingly, Korean antitrust regulators previously decided against an antitrust penalty for Google for its app pre-install policies. This issue is at the heart of one of the three EU antitrust complaints against Google, as indicated.

In Europe, Google faces hypothetical penalties of up to $20 billion if all three cases go against the company.

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