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.
Call appointment of personal friend as antitrust monitor 'flatly unconstitutional'
In a new editorial that could have been written by Apple's legal team in a candid moment, the Wall Street Journal rakes Apple e-book trial judge over the coals for both recent and previous missteps, from "essentially [ruling] before hearing the evidence" to appointing a personal friend with no experience in antitrust issues (and requiring an $1,000-per-hour assistant) as an inquisitor who believes his job is to "investigate Apple all over again" in an unconstitutional manner.
Compliance monitor returns fire in letter to board
Apple has filed a formal objection against the compliance monitor in the recent e-book price-fixing lawsuit, crying foul over the attorney's alleged $69,000 weekly fees. The company's legal team also claims the monitor, Michael Bromwich, has exceeded his authority by demanding interviews with board members and executives, such as design head Jony Ive and board member Al Gore, who are not involved in the business unit affected by the court decision.
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.
Former DoJ Inspector General chosen for role
As expected, a New York judge has appointed an external monitor to ensure Apple's compliance with a recent antitrust injunction related to e-book price fixing. As noted by CNET, Judge Denise Cote has chosen former Assistant US Attorney and Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Bromwich to work directly with Apple for two years to watch for additional antitrust violations.
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.
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 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.
2007 acquisition of advertising company DoubleClick at core of complaint
According to sources discovered by both Reuters and Bloomberg, US regulators are looking into the possibility of a new antitrust probe against Google. This new action would investigate complaints that the search engine breaks laws in how it markets and sells some advertising across the Internet.
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.
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.
EU sees no direct implications for case from FTC settlement
The recent decision by the United States' Federal Trade Commission to close its antitrust probe of Google's business practices will not sway European regulators, who are also investigating the search industry leader's dealings. Executives at the European Commission, the body investigating Google, say they've taken note of the FTC's decision but don't see any direct implications for their own investigation and discussions with Google.
Google hit with ultimatum: settle or face lawsuit
The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly pressuring search giant Google to resolve the issues in the agency's antitrust probe within the next few days or face a lawsuit. The FTC is concerned that Google is abusing its position as the world's dominant search engine, using its position to place its own services above those of competitors. The agency has reportedly been in negotiations with Google for some weeks now, and an antitrust lawsuit is a real possibility should Google prove unwilling or unable to make an acceptable proposal to the FTC.
Google's search market practices under the microscope
The Federal Trade Commission may be preparing to level an antitrust case against search giant Google, alleging that the company has illegally used its dominance of the search market to crowd out rivals. This according to Reuters, which cites sources familiar with the FTC's examination of Google in saying that a case may be forthcoming. Reportedly, the majority of the higher up decision makers at the FTC believe that an antitrust case should be brought, and a decision may be made as early as November or December.
Legal war continues to expand
South Korean authorities have reportedly opened in investigation into Samsung's business practices, following antitrust complaints from rival Apple. The iPhone maker has accused its Korean rival of abusing its dominant position in the wireless technology market.
Allows Amazon to discount e-books for two years
Apple and four of the five major publishing companies have offered to allow retailers such as Amazon to discount e-books for up to two years, part of a deal that could end an EU antitrust investigation that mirrors the case being brought against Apple and two publishing houses in the US. Only one publisher, Pearson's Penguin group, was not part of the sweeping EU arrangement, which could see Amazon regaining its monopoly position in the e-book market.
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."
Toshiba sole defendant, co-conspirators settled previously
After two days of deliberations, a California jury has decreed that Toshiba is guilty of conspiracy involving other Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese LCD manufacturers to keep prices artificially high on LCD panels between 1999 and 2006. Under the findings of the jury, Toshiba is liable for $87 million in damages -- $17 million to businesses and $70 million to consumers. Under antitrust law, defendants can be assessed damages of three times the jury's ruling, or $261 million. Toshiba was the sole remaining defendant in the suit, and claimed to have done nothing wrong.
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.
Second-highest court in Europe rules against Microsoft
Microsoft has lost an appeal against a European Commission decision over its business practices. The General Court, Europe's second-highest, denied the appeal of the 2008 fine, which saw Microsoft faced a fine of 899 million Euros ($1.35 billion at the time, $1.12 billion now) for violating existing antitrust sanctions. This has been cut to 860 million Euros ($1.07 billion) due to Microsoft being permitted by the Commission to apply "restrictions concerning the distribution of 'open source' products" up to September 17, 2007, according to Reuters.
iTunes, Hulu, Netflix traffic allegedly discriminated against
The Justice Department is allegedly in the midst of a large-scale antitrust investigation focusing on potentially anticompetitive practices by cable companies that compete with online video purveyors such as Apple's iTunes store, Hulu, or Netflix. Regulators are said to be attempting to determine if Comcast violated a net-neutrality agreement to not discriminate against competitors that send data through its Internet service to reach customers, though the broad probe is claimed to involve other cable companies.
Brin, Page to appear for FTC depositions
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google, will appear before US antitrust regulators for questioning, sources familiar with the proceedings have told Bloomberg. The two Google executives have retained counsel, and are expected to give depositions before the Federal Trade Commission some time in the next few months.
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.
Federal complaint dropped, civil suit pending
One of the defendants dealing with multiple antitrust lawsuits has settled the overall complaint filed by many states' attorneys general. As a result, Judge Denise Cote granted a motion on Tuesday to dismiss Simon & Schuster from the federal complaint. The terms of the settlement have not been provided.
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."
Google claims Siri poses competitive threat
Google chairman Eric Schmidt has told a U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee that Apple’s Siri personal assistant is a potential threat to its core search business. The admission reverses a statement that Schmidt made in September last year where he had said that Apple did not pose a ‘competitive threat.’ Schmidt argued that the arrival of Siri is a ‘significant threat’ and even cited two publications that have called the voice recognition app a ‘Google killer.’
Judge refuses to consolidate cases
The Department of Justice lawsuit against the proposed AT&T buyout of T-Mobile has finally received a solid schedule, with trial proceedings to officially begin on February 13. Judge Ellen Huvelle allocated six weeks for the trial, however lawyers representing both sides reportedly claimed that such a length would not prove necessary.
Would remove 'significant' competition from market
The US Justice Department has sued to block AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile, Bloomberg reports. A Washington, DC court filing charges that the absorption of T-Mobile would violate antitrust laws. "AT&T’s elimination of T-Mobile as an independent, low-priced rival would remove a significant competitive force from the market," the document reads.
Judge approves class-action status
US District Jude Loretta Preska has allowed a class-action lawsuit against RIAA music labels to continue forward. The lawsuit, which accuses major labels of conspiring to fix prices for digital music distribution, will be pursued under the Sherman Act to explore potential antitrust violations of federal law. Similar antitrust actions under New York state law will also be investigated, as well as other claims related to consumer protection and unjust enrichment.
Search giant facing antitrust investigation
Google has reportedly hired a former US Department of Justice attorney, Jeffrey Blattner, who served as a prosecutor for the government's antitrust actions against Microsoft more than a decade ago. The antitrust specialist is said to be one of several Google representatives present at an American Antitrust Institute (AAI) meeting, where the search giant is said to have defended its search system amid accusations of anticompetitive behavior.
Charge brings net income down to $1.8 billion
Google has submitted a revised 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealing a $500 million charge associated with a Department of Justice investigation. Although the search giant did not formally announce any issues with the DoJ, the filing suggests the money is being set aside to accommodate a "potential resolution" to an investigation over advertising.
Apple, Adobe, Google, Lucasfilm included in suit
Former Lucasfilm employee Siddharth Hariharan has filed a lawsuit against a long list of tech companies, accusing the group of conspiring to limit compensation for key staff. Joseph Saveri, the attorney representing Hariharan, claims the "no solicitation" agreements, which prohibit companies from poaching employees from competitors, violate antitrust laws. The list of accused companies includes Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar.
Google could undergo wider antitrust probe
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is rumored to be considering a broad antitrust investigation into the way Google conducts its Internet search business. According to the Bloomberg sources, the investigation could be as wide-ranging as the Justice Department’s investigation into Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices of ten years ago. However, the FTC is alleged to be waiting to see if the Justice Department investigates Google’s planned acquisition of ITA Software’s travel information service.
Dispute over blocking Real files from iPods
A federal magistrate judge, Howard R. Lloyd, has ordered Apple CEO Steve Jobs to answer questions in a long-running antitrust dispute over the iPod and RealNetworks audio files, says Bloomberg. "The court finds that Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge about the issues at the center of the dispute over RealNetworks software," Lloyd's judgment reads. Jobs is expected to undergo a deposition, although it is not allowed to last more than two hours or stray from the topic at the heart of the case.
Move follows criticism from several groups
The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are reportedly looking into Apple's new in-app subscription rules, following public criticism from a number of companies and groups. The US agencies are said to be considering the possibility that Apple may be in violation of antitrust laws by tightening rules for developers that manage in-app purchases outside of Apple's own iTunes payment system.
Experts raise antitrust concerns
The Online Publishers Association is taking a critical stance toward Apple's new in-app subscription policies, according to a representative. The group includes several major publishers, namely Bloomberg, Forbes, Hearst, Time, Conde Nast and National Geographic. Its concern, claims association publisher Pam Horan, is the flexibility to serve customers.
Months left in investigation, source claims
The European Commission has joined with the US Federal Trade Commission in probing Apple policies towards Flash, a source for the New York Post claims. Little else is known about the effort, although the Commission has taken a strong stance on interoperability, with which Apple's locks on iOS and the App Store may come into conflict. A combined investigation could take as long as four to six months, the source says.
May be inviting crackdown by US government
Apple may need to adjust its behavior if it wants to avoid legal action by the US government, argues Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes. The FTC is reportedly considering whether Apple should be charged with antitrust violations, mainly for banning cross-compilers such as those based on Flash. The corporation could also be accused of unfairly blocking Google and AdMob from selling iOS ads, and the Department of Justice is reportedly looking into abuses in the music industry.
Company may now be under regular scrutiny
Apple will probably dodge antitrust suits from the Department of Justice and/or the Federal Trade Commission, argue Stifel Nicolaus analysts Rebecca Arbogast and George Askew. The US government is considering whether Apple is being anti-competitive in several areas, but primarily in terms of blocking Google/AdMob from from app advertising, and preventing developers from employing cross-compilers, namely those based on Flash. Apple may have legitimate reasons for both policies, the analysts suggest.
Apple rules prevent use of compatible Adobe tools
An Adobe complaint is the main cause behind reported federal interest in antitrust charges against Apple, according to Bloomberg sources. Apple recently changed the rules for developers, forbidding the use of third-party tools in the creation of iPhone and iPad apps. In doing so, Adobe's complaint is said to suggest, Apple has actively interfered with companies' ability to compete.
Blocks on analytics earn ire of ad industry
The FTC and Department of Justice are interested in more than just tool restrictions when it comes to possible antitrust charges against Apple, says the Wall Street Journal. Again quoting "people familiar with the situation," the newspaper says that a probe could also look into iAd, Apple's new advertising network. While App Store rules forbid most iPhone apps from transmitting analytical data, valuable in targeting people for advertising, iAd may face no such limitation.
Tied to locks on development process
Apple will soon be the subject of a US antitrust inquiry, according to a source contacted by the New York Post. The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are, at present, said to be just days away from deciding which organization will launch the probe, looking into whether Apple might be unfairly controlling development of iPhone and iPad apps. The company recently banned the use of third-party tools, most notably Adobe's Flash cross-compiler.
Chip maker satisfies settlement terms
AMD on Thursday announced that it has received the $1.25 billion settlement payment from Intel. The payment satisfies the monetary terms of the agreement over various antitrust and patent disputes. Both companies have also decided to exchange patent rights as part of a five-year cross-license agreement.
May put an end to FTC investigation
Arthur Levinson has resigned from Google's board of directors, according to an official statement. The company is terse on details, noting only that Levinson has been with Google since April 2004, and that the resignation is immediate and amicable. "Art has been a key part of Google's success these past five years, offering unvarnished advice and vital counsel on every big issue and opportunity Google has faced," reads a quote from company CEO Eric Schmidt.
Sprint Virgin deal cleared
The Federal Trade Commission has given antitrust permission to the proposed merger between Sprint Nextel and Virgin Mobile USA, according to Reuters. Sprint in July initially announced its plans to take over the smaller carrier for $483 million, building upon its current 13.1 percent stake. The deal will merge Virgin's prepaid service with Boost Mobile.
DVD Jon Apple subpoena
John Lech Johansen, known to many as DVD Jon, has been served a subpoena in the ongoing Apple iTunes antitrust case. The plaintiff's attorney, Thomas Merrick, requested the subpoena to gather relevant documents that Johansen might have in his possession.
AAPL, GOOG probes proceed
The resignation of Eric Schmidt from Apple's board of directors will not put to rest a Federal Trade Commission investigation, says the group's Bureau of Competition director, Richard Feinstein. Apple announced Schmidt's departure early Monday morning, citing the existence of Chrome OS as a potential conflict of interest. It is illegal for two US companies to share directors when they are also nominally competing in the same field.
Justice Dept. Apple probe
The Justice Department is investigating the hiring strategies of some of America's largest high-tech corporations, according to the Washington Post. Companies involved in the probe include the likes of Apple, Google, Yahoo and Genentech, which are accused of making agreements to avoid recruiting from each other, thereby cementing their powerbase. Should allegations prove to be well-founded, the companies could be considered in violation of antitrust laws meant to ensure fair competition.
FTC head sides with Google
The new chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Jon Leibowitz, is sympathetic to Google despite the government body's investigation into antitrust concerns, a CSPAN interview has uncovered. While Google "certainly has a dominant position in search advertising," argues Leibowitz, "just having a dominant position doesn't in any way violate the law." Problems only arise when a company moves to exclude other competitors, as Microsoft did with Windows and Internet Explorer in the 1990s, according to the FTC head.