Google is under the TCA’s antitrust scrutiny again


Following the Turkish administrative court decision,  the Turkish Competition Authority (“TCA”) on 6 March 2017 decided to reverse its 2015 decision and open an investigation into Google in order to re-assess whether it violated Article 4 (anticompetitive agreement and concerted practices) and Article 6 (abuse of dominance) of the Turkish Competition Law in relation to provision of mobile operating systems, application and services, tying practices and exclusivity agreements with original equipment manufacturers.

2015 decision

The investigation against Google in Turkey started upon a complaint from Yandex. The TCA analysed Google’s exclusivity agreements with original equipment manufacturers, tying arrangements, etc. In its reasoned decision No 15-46/766-281 dated 28.12.2015 the TCA concluded that opening an investigation into Google was not necessary because even though Google’s (i) products were consumers’ first choice, nevertheless (ii) its agreements did not prevent competition since consumers had a choice of downloading the rivals’ applications in the application store, and additionally (iii) the TCA requested Google to remove exclusive preloading conditions from its agreements with phone manufacturers.

Court appeals

The TCA’s decision was appealed by Yandex to the 5th Administrative Court of Ankara, which confirmed the TCA’s position. The complainant further appealed this decision to the 7th Administrative Trial Chamber of the Ankara District Court, which in October 2016 suspended the TCA’s initial decision. In other words, the court ruled that Google’s practices might violate the Turkish Competition Law.

Following additional evaluations, oin the begining of March 2017 the TCA decided to open an investigation into Google Inc., Google International LLC, and Google Reklamcilik ve Pazarlama Ltd.Sti.  and reassess Yandex’s allegations against Google’s practices.

Other jurisdictions

Activities of Google have been subject to similar antitrust investigations in other jurisdictions, including the EU, Russia, USA etc. On 17 April 2017 the two-year-long legal battle between the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service  and Google ended up with a voluntary settlement before the Moscow District Court of Arbitration, where Google agreed to, among others, lift the contractual obligation of the phone manufacturers to pre-install Google’s apps and search engine in the Android devices, as well as develop a ‘choice window’ widget for Chrome browser. It would be interesting to follow the TCA’s approach to Google’s case, particularly considering the settlement outcome in Russia.

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