On December 18, 2009, Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court (the “Court”) reached a decision in favor of defendant in China’s second “abusing dominant market position” case.
The Plaintiff, Tangshan Renren Information Service Company (“TRISC”) operates an online platform that brokers deals between pharmaceutical companies and distributors and consumers. The Defendant, Baidu, which is allegedly the largest Chinese search engine company is accused of artificially lowering TRISC’s ranking in Baidu search results in order to coerce TRISC into continuing to purchase bid ranking service from Baidu. It is alleged to have caused TRISC to lose traffic and revenue. TRISC brought the case to the Court under Paragraph 1 of Article 17 of Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML”), namely, the exclusive dealing provision that prohibits a firm with market dominance position from restricting a third party to dealing with itself or selected third parties exclusively without valid justification. TRISC petitioned the Court to grant an order to enjoin Baido from the conduct and asked for $163,000 in damage for lost revenues. Baidu defended itself by arguing that lowering TRISC’s ranking in its search result was a response to the “junk links” practice TRISC engaged in, i.e. TRISC created a robot to automatically post junk posts on websites and forums and sent out spam messages to elevate its ranking in Baidu’s search results. According to Baidu, it adopts “anti-junk links” policy and made it sufficiently clear to the outside world by putting it on its website.