European Commission investigation Amazon Luxembourg operations
Similar to various tech corporations' arrangement in Ireland, Amazon has a special -- and legal -- tax arrangement with Luxembourg. Amazon's tax rate in the country, like Apple's, is now under fire by the European Commission for corporate tax avoidance. The European Commission is claiming that despite its legality, a favorable tax rate deal with Amazon's own patent holding company in Luxembourg violates European Union rules on state aid for corporations.
Whatsapp, Facebook deemed "not close competitors" by European regulator
European regulators have given the all-clear on the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp. Four months after Facebook requested the European Commission to review the acquisition over possible antitrust-related issues, the regulator has determined that Facebook and its own Messenger service is not a "close competitor" of WhatsApp, and has authorized the purchase.
Apple denies 'selective treatment'
As expected, the European Commission has issued a preliminary finding in which it suggests that Apple is receiving illegal state aid from the Irish government. "In the light of the foregoing considerations, the Commission's preliminary view is that the tax ruling of 1990 (effectively agreed in 1991) and of 2007 in favour of the Apple group constitute state aid, according to Article 107(1) TFEU [Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union]," the document says. "The Commission has doubts about the compatibility of such state aid with the internal market. The Commission has therefore decided to initiate the procedure laid down in Article 108(2) TFEU with respect to the measures in question."
Two tax agreements between Apple, Irish government said to be illegal aid
[Updated to reflect new statement European Commission, Forbes clarification] A report from the European Union on tax deals between tech companies, including Apple, and Ireland could be coming as soon as tomorrow. The European Commission will allegedly be offering a document explaining its formal investigation -- first launched in June -- that could suggest Apple and other may have benefited from illegal state aid from the Irish government.
Fourth settlement deal falls through, deal not likely before departure of head
European Commission anti-trust head Joaquin Almunia has called for Google to improve its proposal to mitigate concerns that the search engine is abusing its industry-leading position and manipulating search results. The previous deal struck has now apparently collapsed, leaving the Mountain View, California-based company to start negotiation a new one, or face fines of up to $6 billion if the complaint moves to formal monopoly charges.
Increased settlement offers make resolution of deal by chairman's exit unlikely
Google's latest settlement offer to fend off anti-trust allegations in the European Union has been refused. The European Commission has issued a statement regarding complaints by businesses and competitors over Google's settlement offer, saying that the search engine giant must add to the settlement package, and the offer as it stands is insufficient, given the arguments which "should be taken in consideration" with any counter-offer.
Microsoft, German publishers demonstrate proposal's inadequacy
A coalition of Microsoft and some German publishing companies have escalated their rhetoric against the European Union's antitrust agreement it is proposing with Google. "The current proposal does not put traffic diversion to an end," claimed Microsoft's chief antitrust lawyer. Microsoft claims to have new evidence it gathered from a modification of Bing's search results that the settlement, and dedicated space for competitive services in search results, would fail to accomplish anything substantial in the case.
Questionnaire sent by European Commission gaging impact of merger
The European Commission, the EU's antitrust agency, is seeking input from companies that may be impacted by Facebook's acquisition of messenger developer WhatsApp. The questionnaire is asking if queried companies are foreseeing any business issues with the merger, or if customers will be negatively impacted by the $19 billion deal.
EU companies polled about Google's Android policies and deals
Antitrust actions against Google in Europe seem to be growing. European Union regulators have sent out questionnaires to those possibly impacted by Google's decisions about Android policies, and are requesting "any written or unwritten" exclusivity deals that the search engine giant has made with wireless carriers, developers, and other companies.
Clears major legal obstacle
The European Commission has authorized Apple's $3 billion takeover of Beats, according to an official statement. The organization was tasked with scrutinizing any possible antitrust concerns in the deal. In its judgment, the Commission notes that while both Apple and Beats sell headphones in Europe, even their combined marketshare is low, and the companies aren't in close competition. Their headphones are said to "differ markedly in functionality and design."
Company yet to offer commitment, details for required changes
[Updated with Apple rebuttal] Despite both Apple and Google being asked to take measures to make the "true cost of apps" clearer before they're downloaded from an app store, Apple is providing "no firm commitment and no timing" for action, according to a statement from the European Commission. At issue are so-called "free-to-play" or "freemium" apps, which are technically free to use, but often require in-app purchases to make real use of them. Some games, in particular, have exploited lax authorization measures around those purchases to lure children into buying dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of dollars' worth of digital content without their parents' consent.
Questionnaires sent by European Commission ahead of formal Facebook purchase review
Officials in the European Union are allegedly questioning competitors of WhatsApp over the proposed acquisition by Facebook. The European Commission, the competition authority, is said to have sent detailed questionnaires to a number of "major technology and online-messaging firms" about how much of an the impact the $19 billion merger will have on the messaging and social network marketplaces.
Could ask for concessions if deal thought to be too anti-competitive
Antitrust regulators with the European Commission will rule by July 30 whether or not Apple's $3 billion takeover of Beats can go ahead as planned, according to Reuters. The Commission has several options available: it can authorize the deal as signed, or ask for concessions -- such as divestiture -- if it's determined that the buyout would give Apple too much industry control. In a worst-case scenario, the Commission could launch an investigation that might even scuttle the acquisition.
Roaming changes mandated by European Commission affects call, text, data costs
In a repeat of similar moves last year, mobile phone users in Europe will soon be able to use their smartphones in other countries on the continent at a lower cost. From July 1, roaming caps introduced by the European Commission will see the cost of calls and text messages reduced, with the high note being the reduction of maximum data charges from last year's cap of 45 euro cents ($0.61) per megabyte to 20 cents ($0.27) before tax, a decrease of 55.5 percent.
Claims Google abusing position over third-party app store measures
Google is abusing its position as the dominant Android app store, according to an antitrust complaint from another app marketplace. Aptoide, a store from Portugal that hosts 200,000 apps and has 6 million active users, has met with European Commission representatives in the last week, and claims that Google makes it unfairly difficult for Android users to use a different app store with their device instead of Google Play.
Second-highest European court sides with EC over Intel anti-competitive behavior fine
Intel must pay a 1.06 billion euro ($1.44 billion) fine handed to it by the European Union five years ago, the second-highest court in Europe has ordered. Judges based at the General Court in Luxembourg stood by the fine, issued by the European Commission in 2009 over anti-competitive behavior designed to squeeze AMD out of the processor market.
Company insists it 'pays every euro' it owes
Apple has issued an official response to the European Commission's investigation into its tax practices in Ireland. "Apple pays every euro of every tax that we owe," the statement reads. "We have received no selective treatment from Irish officials. Apple is subject to the same tax laws as scores of other international companies doing business in Ireland."
Presences in Ireland, Netherlands, and Luxembourg suspect
As was hinted yesterday, the European Commission has announced a formal investigation of Apple, Fiat, and Starbucks for possible tax evasion. In particular the probe will concentrate on Apple's affiliates in Ireland, Starbucks' footprint in the Netherlands, and Fiat Finance and Trade in Luxembourg. "In the current context of tight public budgets, it is particularly important that large multinationals pay their fair share of taxes," states JoaquÃn Almunia, the Commission's VP for competition policy. "Under the EU's state aid rules, national authorities cannot take measures allowing certain companies to pay less tax than they should if the tax rules of the Member State were applied in a fair and non-discriminatory way."
Regulatory officials concerned that Ireland offered low tax rates as incentive
Europe's antitrust and consumer investigation agency, the European Commission, is allegedly opening up an inquiry into Apple's tax practices in Ireland. The review reportedly magnifies existing efforts looking at the business arrangements of many multi-national companies that have a presence in Ireland, and will focus on whether Apple was given special tax treatment to set up shop.
Company uses provision in merger law to ask for single review process
Even though Facebook already has approval from the United States Federal Trade Commission for the $16 billion purchase of Whatsapp, the company is looking to get ahead of the game in Europe. Facebook has asked regulators that are part of the European Commission to review the acquisition deal ahead of possible antitrust concerns.
French, German commissioners balking, need more from the deal
Despite Google having made "significant concessions" in its eyes to the European Commission anti-trust regulatory agency, at least two commissioners are calling for more from the search engine. Politicians from France and Germany are demanding that Google add more to the package to allow for a more level playing field for European businesses, or scrap the proposal entirely and start from scratch.
Repairs, installation targets for phone connections in UK could reduce under Ofcom proposals
British regulator Ofcom is considering changes to standards relating to installation and repairs to phone lines in the United Kingdom, as part of a three-yearly review. Openreach, the wholesale arm of BT which performs installations and fault repair for multiple telecommunications companies, as well as managing the infrastructure of the phone system, will receive lower fault repair targets and will be forced to offer reduced charges to customers, if Ofcom's proposals are accepted.
iCloud 'particularly bad' next to other cloud services
The Norwegian Consumer Council has filed a formal complaint about the terms and condition's for Apple's iCloud, charging that they violate several articles of Norwegian law concerning product marketing. Earlier in 2014, the Council conducted a survey of the terms for several cloud storage services in the Norwegian market, as part of a broader effort at improving terms for all digital services available to Norwegians. Based on data from that survey, the complaint alleges that iCloud's terms are "particularly bad," measuring some 8,600 words and ultimately "convoluted and unclear."
Phone maker will likely have to drop injunctions
Lenovo-owned Motorola Mobility will probably avoid an antitrust fine when the European Commission rules on a dispute with Apple, which should happen as soon as next week, two sources tell Bloomberg. Motorola has been accused of using patents simply to block sales of Apple products, but it's believed that the Commission will only order it to drop injunctions over standards-essential patents. The European Union's antitrust head, Joaquin Almunia, recently promised that a decision would be made in the Motorola case by the end of April.
Search results proposal acceptance ends three-year antitrust investigation
The European Commission has settled with Google over its antitrust allegations for anti-competitive behavior in search. The tentative agreement between the search company and the regulator will see Google display the search results from competing services, among other proposals for promoting other companies, in order to put the three-year antitrust investigation to an end.
Google warned of lack of time before European Commission decides fate
European Union antitrust officials have declared that Google's offer to modify its search results do not go far enough to settle complaints about anti-competitive behavior. A change of heart from what was said in October, the decision by the European Commission (EC) comes with a warning that it is short of time to offer a better solution, and could end up receiving fines of up to $5 billion.
Threat of antitrust investigation by EC if Nokia overreaches with patents
Nokia has been warned by the European Commission (EC) to avoid becoming a "patent troll," once the company completes the sale of its Devices and Services arm to Microsoft. Joaquin Almunia, head of competition and vice president of the EC, reconfirmed the Commission's approval of the purchase, but advised that there is a danger that Nokia could try to "extract higher returns" from its patent portfolio.
Companies accused of limiting online sales
European Commission agents have reportedly raided corporate offices of Samsung, Philips and retail giant Media-Saturn, as part of an investigation over improper price manipulation, according to a Reuters report. Regulators believe the companies may have colluded to limit online distribution in an attempt to artificially inflate prices.
European Commission finds minimal overlap between Microsoft, Nokia
Microsoft has been given the all-clear to acquire Nokia's mobile phone business by the European Commission (EC). The clearance by the regulatory body comes just one day after the US Department of Justice approved the deal, two weeks after Nokia's shareholders made a similar decision, leaving little in the way of obstructions left for the $7.2 billion deal.
Commission blasts US data-collection methods
The European Commission has called on the US to change its data-collection policies to "restore trust" that has been eroded by recent revelations detailing the National Security Agency's foreign spying programs. The Commission has outlined several recommendations, including an EU-US data protection "umbrella" agreement that would give European citizens the right to legally challenge the US government whenever their personal data is intercepted in the US.
European flight change follows device rule changes by FAA, EASA
Passengers on flights in Europe may be able to use their smartphone's data connection in the future, after the European Commission has revealed new rules allowing the use of 3G and 4G LTE connections in flights. The new rules come shortly after both the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) allowed the use of electronic devices set in flight mode at takeoff and landing for travel in the US and Europe respectively.
Proposal sees Samsung avoiding standard-essential patent lawsuits
The European Commission is requesting feedback on an offer by Samsung to stop suing other device manufacturers over specific types of patents. The proposal would prevent Samsung from suing over standard-essential patents (SEPs) for a five-year period, in order to cease the antitrust proceedings it is embroiled in, and to avoid a potential fine from the EC of $18.3 billion.
First proposal deemed insufficient
European Union regulators have reportedly found Samsung's settlement offer to be insufficient, forcing the company to expand its proposal to avoid a fine for its patent lawsuits against Apple. Samsung last year dropped its injunction request, which was deemed improper, however the European Commission continued to pursue antitrust actions that could result in a fine of more than $18 billion.
European Commission assesses offer
Google has reportedly submitted a second proposal to the European Commission, offering to change its practices to avoid a potential $5 billion fine. The filing follows an earlier proposal that was also aimed at easing antitrust concerns, which focus on Google's prioritization of its own search services over competing services, though the initial concessions were dismissed as insufficient by EU regulators and competitors.
Proposals to end European roaming charges to be published next week
Proposals to make European roaming charges illegal have surfaced again, in the form of a leaked draft of legislation. The 93-page document promises to introduce "measures to gradually end mobile roaming surcharges" in the region, and to "guarantee common high levels of consumer protection across the union," in the European Commission's (EC) ongoing battle with mobile carriers on the continent.
Commitments 'are now legally binding'
The European Commission has accepted a proposal from British publisher Penguin -- and German media conglomerate Bertelsmann -- to toss e-book deals it signed with Apple that are in violation of European competition regulations, according to a press release. "After our decision of December 2012, the commitments are now legally binding on Apple and all five publishers including Penguin, restoring a competitive environment in the market for e-books," states the EC's Competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia.
Proposals to end antitrust probe are 'not enough' states Competition head
A proposal by Google to alter its search results does not go far enough to minimize antitrust issues, according to the European Commission (EC). Joaquin Almunia, the European Competition Commissioner believes that the proposals submitted in April by the search giant are "not enough to overcome our concerns," and requests for Google to resubmit with some improvements.
Raids of corporate offices follow complaints about Internet capacities
The offices of three major carriers in Europe have been raided by European Union officials as part of an investigation into the practice of bandwidth throttling. The headquarters of Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Telefonica all received visits from the government officials, trying to find evidence that the three are restricting the bandwidth for companies specifically requiring such high levels.
Further European roaming charge cuts due next year
A drop in roaming charges mandated by the European Commission has taken place today, lowering prices for Europeans traveling within the continent. The new rules cut the maximum price EU-based carriers can charge their customers per megabyte of data transfer from 70 euro cents ($0.91) down to 45 cents ($0.59), with a further drop scheduled in July 2014 to push it down to 20 cents ($0.26).
Company allegedly prevented Apple from using standards-essential patent
Samsung is in early talks with the European Commission to settle charges of using its market position to block Apple from using a standards-essential mobile phone patent, two Reuters sources say. In December, the Commission told Samsung it was in the wrong in asking for injunctions against Apple for its use of essential patents. "Samsung has been involved in settlement discussions for several months now. Samsung wants to settle," one of the sources explains.
Proposals to help create single European mobile market
The European Commission (EC) has voted to scrap mobile charges caused through roaming in 2014. The vote, held by a group of 27 European Commissioners on Tuesday, fast-tracks the proposal to ban the extra charges on calls, texts, and data, with a view to having it implemented by carrier by the beginning of July next year.
Rivals claim that Google using unfair tactics to give platform an edge
Having just reached a legally-binding settlement with the European Commission in an anti-trust investigation over its deceptive use of paid ads appearing as search results indistinguishable from independent results and its anti-competitive blocking of other services on sites that use AdSense, the company now faces a new investigation over its Android licensing deals. Claims from rivals such as Nokia, Microsoft and FairSearch.org allege that Google licenses Android to device manufacturers below cost, and makes demands about the placement of Google services and products.
Questionnaire asks if anti-competitive clauses in Apple contracts exist
The European Commission is looking into how Apple sells the iPhone in Europe, by asking carriers about their experience with the company. A questionnaire allegedly sent to carriers in the region asks if Apple's sales tactics are anti-competitive, a well as asking if Apple restricts the iPhone's use on some sort of technical level.
Motorola suffers major setback in FRAND patent case against Apple
Motorola has been issued a formal warning by the European Commission for potential FRAND patent abuse against Apple in a case underway in Germany. The EU Commission has formed a preliminary view that Google-owned company’s case against Apple violates the EU’s antitrust rules and that its misuse ‘could ultimately harm consumers.’ The development is a major blow to Google, which purchased Motorola for $12 billion in large part to use Motorola’s patents as a defense against Apple’s legal attacks on its Android partners.
Feedback requested on search labeling agreement
The European Commission has opened itself up to comments from Google's competitors, concerning how the search giant should display links to rival services next to its own. The feedback request comes after Google struck a deal with the EC to end its two-year antitrust investigation into its search practices, with the agreement including a number of concessions in search results and other products.
Google agrees to label search results, links to competitors
Google has struck a deal with the European Commission, in order to end a two-year antitrust investigation into its search practices, according to a report. The legally binding agreement will see Google clearly labeling any search results that come up for its own products and services, and in some instances, providing links from competing search engines.
French developer admitted to breaking Apple's guidelines
Calling Apple's decision to pull AppGratis out of the App Store for its violation of the rules "extremely brutal and unilateral," a junior minister for the digital economy in France has said she plans to ask the European Commission to investigate "Internet companies" for "repeated abusive behavior" and called for tighter regulation of digital platforms, search engines and social media. The thinly-veiled attack on Apple, Google and social services like Twitter and Facebook comes on the heels of Apple's pulling of the France-based iMediapp's program.
Proposal, if accepted, will likely lead to no fine paid by search engine
In response to the antitrust investigation by the European Commission, Google has formally submitted a proposal to the agency -- attempting to end a two-year investigation. The proposal, if accepted, will reportedly see Google clearly marking on search results what is a Google product, and impose fewer restrictions on advertisers. Google's proposal includes no fine paid to the Commission for its prior bad behavior.
Early probing underway
European Union regulators are examining whether or not the deals Apple signs with cellphone carriers might violate antitrust laws, the New York Times reports. Several carriers are said to have complained that Apple's arrangements hurt competition; a source for the Times adds that while no formal complaints have been filed, a group of carriers recently submitted information about their contracts with Apple to the European Commission. The Commission has confirmed that it is looking at the deals, but that it hasn't started an official investigation.
Says Apple breaking law in 21 European countries
Apple is still failing to tell consumers about their warranty rights in many European Union countries, says EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. Last September Reding sent a letter to various governments encouraging them to take action against Apple to make sure it obeyed EU warranty laws. But the case and the responses to her letter "have highlighted rather clearly just why the Commission cannot sit on the side-lines on enforcement issues," Reding said in a speech today, as reported by Dow Jones. "The approaches to enforcement in these types of cases turn out to be very diversified and inconsistent at a national level. In at least 21 EU Member States Apple is not informing consumers correctly about the legal warranty rights they have. This is simply not good enough."