Dewey secures victory for HP over Russian cartel allegations

Sergei Volfson

The head of the firm’s Russia/CIS dispute resolution practice Sergei Volfson led the team, which also included associate Ilia ­Fedotov.

HP was one of six laptop manufacturers investigated by Russia’s Federal ­Anti­monopoly Services (FAS) over allegations of a breach of Russian competition law made by campaigner group the Centre for Free ­Technologies.

The issue was whether the companies had formed a cartel, illegally bundling preloaded Microsoft software onto their laptops and denying customers the opportunity to buy computers without Microsoft ­Windows.

The other companies were Toshiba, Samsung, Acer, Dell and Asus TEK.

Toshiba and Samsung were represented by Clifford Chance and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld respectively, while Baker & McKenzie acted for Acer. Asus TEK was advised by Lidings Law Firm while Dell handled the case in-house.

In a judgment issued on 16 November, the FAS found no evidence of collusion and that the dominance of Microsoft could be ­attributed to consumer demand. It also found that the companies’ returns policies for the programme were ­adequate.

Volfson said the FAS had made “a brave decision”, recognising that there were no grounds for finding the defendants guilty.

“In sectors such as oil and gas the FAS is sometimes bound by political factors and they must apply certain decisions against big market players, but here they made a reasonable decision,” he added.

If the FAS had found against HP and its five co-defendants, they could have been fined between 1 per cent and 15 per cent of their gross Russian turnover for the five-month investigation period.

The investigation was ­initiated after the FAS received 600 petitions from Russian individuals, organised by the Centre for Free Technologies.