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.
Move may help avoid $5B fine
European Union antitrust officials have voiced satisfaction with Google's latest offer to modify its search results. The EU's Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, issued a statement suggesting the company has finally addressed all areas of concern, improving the list of concessions beyond its July offer that received "very negative" feedback and was subsequently dismissed by the agency.
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.
Compensation, possible rebranding could be ordered by judge
Microsoft has lost a trademark case in the United Kingdom over the branding of its cloud storage service. The ruling, which covers both the UK itself and the European Union, states that Microsoft infringed on British Sky Broadcasting's trademark of the Sky brand with SkyDrive, which could impact the way that the software company offers it across the continent.
Expected move in response to new EMF law broken by computer
As previously reported, Apple's Mac Pro tower is headed towards discontinuation in some countries of the European Union. Today, the computer is listed as "currently unavailable" at a number of European Apple online stores. The computers were scheduled for discontinuation of vendor orders on February 18, and all systems ordered prior to that date must be deliverable before March. Vendors will be allowed to sell stock after March 1. US availability is unaffected.
Google dismisses allegations
Almunia critical of FTC settlement, restates previous position
According to the European Union's antitrust chairman Joaquin Almunia, Google should face antitrust charges for "diverting traffic," and should be required to change the way that it returns search results to users. Almunia suggested that Google make it apparent to users that the service is using its own services to tailor search results, and does not give equal billing in search results to competitors.
Punishment remains unclear
European Union regulators are preparing to formally charge Microsoft for violating a 2009 commitment, according to EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. Comments from the antitrust head suggest Microsoft is nearing punishment, potentially a sizable a fine, for failing to provide a browser-choice screen in its first Windows 7 service pack.
Talks said to be on 'knife edge'
European Union antitrust regulators have reportedly demanded significant changes to Google's mobile services to avoid potential punishments for anti-competitive practices. The company is said to be in talks with EU competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia over a potential settlement to avoid penalties, however a Financial Times report suggests the negotiations may be on the "knife edge."
Antitrust investigation to see whether Windows 8 is unfair
Regulators in the European Union are looking into whether Microsoft's browser policy for the forthcoming Windows 8 constitutes a violation of antitrust rules to which Microsoft had previously agreed. As Ars Technica reports, the investigation is but one of two in which European regulators are taking Microsoft to task over the browser policies on its Windows platforms.
Probe to determine if 2009 commitments were followed
[Update: official statement from Microsoft, estimated fines] European Union antitrust regulators have reportedly opened an investigation focused on Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. The probe is said to be a follow-up action that will attempt to determine if the company has followed guidelines that it agreed to in 2009 as part of earlier antitrust proceedings.
Oracle, UsedSoft case returns to German Federal Court
Selling used software licenses is legal, according to the European Union Court of Justice. In a judgment published today, a preliminary ruling in a case between Oracle and UsedSoft saw the highest court in Europe side with the German reseller, declaring that software developers and distributors cannot step in and prevent license resale after the initial purchase from them.
Terms of negotiation remain unclear
Google has reportedly offered to engage in settlement talks with European Union regulators, in an attempt to avoid a formal legal dispute over lingering antitrust issues. The search giant's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, is said to have sent a letter to EU antitrust commissioner Joaqu Almunia, addressing several concerns that remain focal points in an investigation that could lead to penalties.
Chinese companies push back against rumored EU action
Chinese telecom hardware manufacturers Huawei and ZTE have denied receiving any illegal subsidies from the government of China, Reuters reports today. The two cellphone makers have come under fire for alleged unfair trade practices and now are rumored to face impending punitive action from European Union regulators.
EU regulators allege illegal government subsidies
Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE are under investigation by European Union regulators, who have been building a case that the two companies have benefited from illegal government subsidies. Sources familiar with the investigation have told The Financial Times that the accusations against the two telecom companies make up the major focus of a larger case that could result in punitive tariffs covering a range Chinese exports to the EU.
Search giant asked to address issues
European Union antitrust regulators have threatened Google with fines and a formal antitrust lawsuit if the search giant does not move to resolve lingering concerns. European Commission vice president JoaquAn Alumnia has found evidence of anticompetitive wrongdoing, however regulators are enabling the company to make a "commitment decision" as an alternative to litigation and a potential fine.
Timeframe for resolution remains unclear
European Union officials have reaffirmed their commitment to an ongoing Google antitrust investigation, however regulators have hinted that the probe may take much longer to complete. In a statement provided to , EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia admitted that "we are not there yet."
ACTA may be rejected outright if Euro advice taken
The US' attempts to push the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) were dealt a possible hit after new European Parliament rapporteur David Martin published (PDF) a recommendation that the representatives for European Union's member states reject the bill. Echoing the same sentiments that led his predecessor to quit in protest, he saw the "vagueness" of the bill as being overreaching. Whatever advantages it would have in clamping down on piracy would be "far outweighed" by curbs on civil rights, Martin said.
New proposal would further cut Euro roaming costs
The European Union continues its battle against high operators and their high roaming rates. The new measures, headed up by German politician Angelika Niebler, are calling for even steeper reductions, Reuters found. Compared to the reductions outlined last year by European Commissioner Neelie Kroes, who called for a one-minute call costing 24 cents when abroad in Europe, the new law would price the same cost at 15 cents.
Neelie Kroes Twits against SOPA bill
The latest to speak out against the controversial SOPA and PIPA bills is European Union Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes. "Glad tide is turning on SOPA: don't need bad legislation when should be safeguarding benefits of open net," she wrote in a Twitter message. The legislation, if passed, would give the US Justice Department to shut down sites simply suspected of sharing pirated content.
EU, regulators urged to look into net neutrality
European Union ministers has asked the European Commission and pan-European regulator BEREC to look into whether some ISPs are throttling some services in favor of others. According to a Tuesday Reuters report, the concern is that net neutrality may be hampered, with Internet calling services such as Skype possibly affected. BEREC will publish a joint report from regulators in the 27 EU member states in February that will summarize its findings.
EU prevents SOPA-style law targeting ISPs
The European Union's Court of Justice ruled in a Belgian dispute Thursday that Internet providers couldn't be forced to block sites on the media industry's behalf. Officials determined that Belgium's court and local music royalty agency SABAM would be violating EU law if they made Belgian ISP Scarlet install devices to block subscribers from seeing and downloading what are believed to be pirated songs. Any system would violate the "fundamental rights" of users to private data and to send or receive information.
Change aims to aid aging musicians
The Council of the European Union has voted to extend copyright protection terms for sound recordings by 20 years. The move was widely supported by the recording industry, pushed through as a way to "help aging sessions musicians" by ensuring that royalties would not be cut off as the copyright holders were ready to retire.
Company attempts to reassure buyers
Samsung has quickly responded to its loss against Apple in German courts, where a judge approved a preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Although the decision in Germany is widely viewed as a threat to Galaxy Tab distribution throughout the entire European Union, Samsung suggests the move is not yet final and will not have an affect on the other legal battles the company is fighting against Apple in other markets.
Surcharge on calls to be 'nearly zero' by 2016
The European Commission has released a statement that would virtually eliminate roaming charges for voice calls in the European Union by 2015. The plan will be presented next week. Under rules set to expire next year, roaming charges are capped at €0.35 ($0.51) for calls made abroad and €0.11 ($0.16) for calls received. Text messages also have the 11 cent surcharge added.
EU officials plan non-binding geolocation policy
The European Union's Article 29 Working Party regulator group said on Thursday that it would put out a non-binding opinion that would set the direction for location data on smartphones and other devices. The statement would call on companies to assume location was personal information and get permission, avoid tying location to a person, and purge the information after a certain amount of time. It could serve as a possible guideline, however, for future action by the European Commission or individual countries that would make location privacy a requirement.
EU settles on micro USB for universal phone power
The European Union on Wednesday formally established its micro USB charging standard for phone charging. The approach proposed over a year ago will guarantee that phones and phone chipsets from at least 14 companies, including Apple, LG, Motorola, Nokia and RIM, will support charging over a micro USB connection without needing to switch chargers. The measure was implemented to cut back on both wasted chargers and to let users switch chargers without risking damage or undercharging.
Symbian gets 31m European rescue in project form
Symbian today said it had received a major cash influx from the European Commission as part of a continent-wide project. The Artemis Joint Technology Initiative has given the mobile OS developer 22 million euros ($30.8 million) to develop the SYMBEOSE consortium, or Symbian -- the Embedded Operating System for Europe. The group should streamline creating Symbian devices and giving them "new core platform capabilities," such as cloud computing and multi-core processing.
French government to subsidize digital music
In a new attempt to fight the rising rate of music piracy, the French government will subsidize the cost of digital music, a Tuesday report said. The strategy was approved by the European Union and was praised for its promotion of cultural diversity. French residents who buy a card to download music from subscription-based websites will only have to pay half of a 50 euro (about $70) card, with the government paying for the remainder.
EU says new iOS policy puts halt to investigation
The European Commission on Saturday said it was putting an end to an investigation of Apple's app policies. Competition Policy VP Joaquín Almunia claimed that Apple had relaxed iPhone development rules in direct response to EU investigations. Apple's move was characterized as proof change could be voluntary.
EU to minimize mobile roaming price gaps
The European Union's telecoms chief is calling the high roaming fees charged by European carriers an "outdated concept" and says work will continue on reducing them. According to a Thursday report, Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes blames the issue on a lack of competition.
EU argues exemption for new products
The World Trade Organization has sided with the US, Japan and Taiwan in an ongoing dispute over European Union tariffs for certain electronics items. A panel has decided that the EU has violated the WTO's Information Technology Agreement by imposing duties on flat-panel displays, multifunction printers and TV set-top boxes.
WTO says EU duties on some electronics illegal
Duties levied by the European Union on imported consumer electronics violate an international trade agreement, a World Trade Organization panel has ruled recently. According to a Tuesday report, the WTO panel showed its report to the European Commission on Friday, with the US, Japan and Taiwan complaining about the duties.
EU-imposed data roaming limits take effect July 1
In its efforts to regulate roaming fees in Europe, the European Union has reaffirmed that roaming data charges will be automatically capped at 50 Euros (about $62) before tax starting on July 1. Users can choose their own limits when traveling in other countries in Europe, and carriers will now have to send a warning message when 80 percent of that limit is reached. Once the limit is reached, they will need to cut off the data connection unless the subscriber has asked for more.
EU says roaming charge limits are legal
The European Court of Justice today upheld the decision to cap cellphone roaming charges across the EU. Officials said the EU had the "right" to impose caps to protect subscribers from overly high costs inside Europe. The caps, which will be enforced as of July 1, top out at 0.49 euros ($0.59) per minute for an outgoing call and 0.24 euros ($0.29) for incoming calls, with both data and messaging also having limits.
EU says Samsung and others kept prices high
The European Union today fined a collective of memory producers 331.3 million euros (about $404.4 million) for price fixing. Electronics giants Hitachi, Mitsubishi, NEC, Samsung and Toshiba as well as Elpida, Hynix, Infineon and Nanya admitted they artificially kept RAM prices high between at least 1998 and 2002 by secretly coordinating pricing between each other. Samsung faces the largest fine and will pay 145.7 million euros ($177.8 million), but Infineon will also pay a large 56.7 million euros ($69.2 million) for its involvement.
EU may make firms take plea to avoid huge fines
The European Union is about to fine nine companies a total of $370 million for allegedly fixing pricing on flash memory, leaks revealed on Monday. Samsung, Hynix, Toshiba and six other major companies are being pressed to admit to colluding on high prices in exchange for seeing a 10 percent drop in the fines levied against each company. An NYT contact believed a ruling could come as soon as Wednesday.
Editorial: Apple at no real risk in short term
As the FTC and other government organizations consider whether or not they want to launch an anti-trust probe into Apple's iPhone OS development rules, the market is left wondering what will come of it. For now, the government has remain tight-lipped about its plans and rumors suggest that Apple might be planning to change its SDK to avoid a court battle. But such a move could be premature, especially considering Apple might have little to worry about.
EU rule will minimize Internet cutoffs
The European Parliament late yesterday officially approved a final key rule in its telecoms package that will require legal rights for those threatened with losing Internet access in piracy cases. The measure will only allow EU member states to cut off access if it's deemed "appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society." Any decision will require an objective procedure that allows the accused to defend themselves as well as presumptions of innocence and a right to privacy.
More airwaves freed for Euro cell data
The European Union in a decision this week formally approved the use of 3G and eventually 4G data on the 900MHz and 1,800MHz GSM bands. The measure substantially improves the amount of bandwidth available for cellular Internet access in EU states and should render it less expensive as well. Besides reducing the need for more cell sites, allowing frequencies lower than 2,100MHz for 3G will also extend the range and coverage of existing service.
EU web bill ammended
Despite European Union members approving a reform to EU telecoms rules, the European Parliament has ordered a revision to the proposed legislation, as it believes it restricts Internet users' rights to challenge accusations of piracy, a report says on Wednesday. The state governments and lawmakers will have two months starting in September to reach a new deal or the draft reform will not pass through to become law.
EU to cut roaming charges
The 27 countries that make up the European Union agreed on Tuesday to cut cellphone roaming charges for tourists in Europe, proposing a cap of roaming calls at 35 cents a minute beginning in 2011. Currently, the cost of a one-minute call of a French subscriber making a phone call in England, for example is 45 cents, though it's due to drop to 43 cents later in 2009. By mid 2010, that rate will drop to 39 cents, all part of a process that began in 2007 as European tourists complained of being taken advantage of when traveling outside of their home countries.
EU considering freedom law
A law to uphold users' freedoms on the Internet similar to the Global Online Freedom Act drafted by the US Congress is not necessary in the European Union, said EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding on Tuesday, according to a report. The law would protect surfers' rights, especially in countries where the government is blocking sites and intimidating users by policing their actions, which violates their human rights, say EU lawmakers in favor of the "freedom law."
Apple battery controversy
Developing European Union guidelines could force Apple to adopt a more user- and environmentally-friendly approach to batteries, reports say. The legal body is currently in the process of drafting a "New Batteries Directive," which would expand on the present set of guidelines designed to make it easier to remove, dispose of and/or recycle old batteries. The present directive indicates that companies must make it simple to remove batteries from electronics; the proposed one would insist that batteries can be "readily removed" for replacement or disposal.
EU to cap roaming charges
The European Commission on Tuesday announced a planned law that would limit how much network providers can charge for text messages and downloads when users are roaming outside of their home country in Europe, according to a WSJ report (registration required). Under the proposed law, a single text message sent within the European Union will cost the equivalent of 16 US cents, down from about 42. Charges for passing on text messages between mobile operators will be limited to just under 6 cents.
EU wants iTunes changed
European Union competition commissioner Neelie Kroes spoke to Apple CEO Steve Jobs and long-time rocker Mick Jagger in a meeting today, chastising Apple others for creating a varied market with its iTunes Store. Network World reports that Kroes reminded those present of the EU's intent of creating a borderless living style and marketplace among nations in the Union. Kroes made it clear that if there was any confusion over the rules, that she would explain them.
EU Caps Data Text Roaming
The European Union today warned carriers in its member states that it would start regulating the roaming rates for data and messaging in the region without voluntary price drops. While not saying what would dictate the regulation, Commissioner Viviane Reding explains that the government body will start posting Europe-wide prices in the next two weeks and will likely demand that most prices be regulated lower if not dropped voluntarily.