23 Dec 2019 12:23

Gref hopes Rambler, Nginx conflict will be settled 'without litigation campaign'

MOSCOW. Dec 23 (Interfax) - Sberbank of Russia chief Herman Gref said he hoped the conflict between Rambler and Nginx would be resolved "without a litigation campaign."

"We've had a talk. I've spoken to the service's founders. I'm hoping we can find a solution even without a litigation campaign. If there were complaints to be made I think they can and have to be resolved at talks first and then, if no agreement can be reached, in a civil court, but no way should the law enforcement agencies be involved," Gref told the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

He said Sberbank was also a user of Nginx services. "They have done well, building a company like that. We use their service ourselves. I'm disappointed by what's happened," Gref said.

On December 16, the Rambler board of directors unanimously decided to "task Rambler management with asking Russian law enforcement authorities to close the criminal case and to continue to protect company interests in the context of civil law," a press release said.

According to Rambler's statement, law enforcement agencies accepted a report filed by the company Lynwood Investments CY, which Rambler authorized in 2015 to protect its interests as related to the intellectual property of the Nginx web server program developed by Igor Sysoyev, Rambler's former system administrator, in the early 2000s. The Interior Ministry assigned aggrieved party status to Rambler on December 4, 2019.

The Nginx Moscow office and the homes of Nginx General Director Maxim Konovalov and company founder Igor Sysoyev were searched on December 12. Media said the investigation had been opened as part of a criminal case dealing with violation of copyright as well as related rights, as unidentified Rambler employees had developed the Nginx program, viewed by Rambler as "a company product," distributed it as an open-source software, and then transferred the rights to Nginx Inc. The same day, Rambler claimed a violation of its right to the Nginx web server program.

Sberbank, a Rambler shareholder, was not informed of the dispute over the intellectual property rights or criminal case, according to the Rambler press release following the December 16 board meeting, which was convoked by Sberbank.

Sberbank has owned 46.5% of Rambler Group since August 2019. An identical stake is held by Alexander Mamut, whose son is beneficiary of Lynwood, also owns 46.5%.

Nginx Inc. was established in 2011 on the basis of Sysoyev's products. Earlier this year, it was purchased by the U.S.-based company F5 Networks for $670 million. The company provides open-code software for the operation of Internet infrastructure. The company also provides customized support services to the servers of companies such as Yandex, Mail.Ru Group, Rambler, Netflix, and others, as is stated on the company's website. Roughly 30% of web servers around the world operate on the basis on Nginx products.