Comparison shopping, Android app bundling complains issued by European Commission
Google's relationship with the European Commission (EC) has worsened, after the regulator made two antitrust-related announcements. It has formally objected to the way Google gives more prominence in search results to its own shopping comparison services than competitors, and has also opened up a separate formal investigation over Android and its bundling of Google apps.
Company complains that antitrust monitor overreaches, abuses position
Judges hearing two separate cases brought by Apple against (respectively) Judge Denise Cote's appointment of an unqualified personal friend as an antitrust monitor, and an appeal of the whole of Cote's ruling against the company in the Department of Justice e-book "price fixing" lawsuit appeared to find sympathetic ears in the Second US Court of Appeals in New York on Tuesday. At least one judge said the court's monitor was grossly overpaid, while another panel appeared to agree with Apple's arguments with Judge Cote's ruling.
Russian search engine captures 60 percent of the business in Russia
Russian search engine Yandex has demanded that antitrust authorities investigate Google. Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has been instructed to look into Mountain View's bundling of services with mobile operating system Android, and how it impacts the market share of other companies' services in the country.
Agrees to changes in licensing terms of essential 3G, 4G patents in China
Qualcomm has agreed to pay a fine to end an antitrust investigation in China. The settlement, which involves the chip producer handing over 6.09 billion yuan (approximately $975 million) to China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), as well as performing other actions, after the NDRC declared Qualcomm had violated an anti-monopoly law.
Judge concerned about 'speculative nature of the damages'
US District Judge Beth L. Freeman ruled on Thursday that she requires the plaintiffs, Gary Feitelson and Daniel McKee, in a lawsuit against Google to submit more details. The two consumers allege that Android-based smartphone prices are being negatively impacted because manufacturers must agree to pre-load apps like the Google search app by default, instead of making deals with, for instance, Bing. The judge has said she would most likely dismiss the lawsuit as it stands, but is giving the plaintiffs a chance to revise it with additional evidence.
Apple versus Real trial testimony concludes, jury deliberations begin next week
[Updated with additional context for Schultz' testimony] The Real versus Apple anti-trust trial continued on Friday, with an Apple engineer testifying that he worked on a project in 2006 that was "intended to block 100 percent of non-iTunes clients," though he later clarified that such actions were taken in the name of user security and OS stability. Former Apple engineer Rod Schultz was summoned by Real's attorneys unwillingly, and discussed his work on a project with the codename "Candy" which would "keep out third party players" who exploited flaws in the iPod's operating system.
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.
1,000 authors affected by dispute sending missive to DoJ antitrust head
Amazon's battle with publisher Hachette is continuing, with authors still being affected by the issue. The Authors United group, who previously took out an ad in newspapers decrying treatment by Amazon, is planning to send a letter to the head of the US Justice Department's antitrust division, asking them to look into the matter. Authors attached to the letter include Stephen King, Donna Tartt, Paul Auster, James Patterson, John Grisham, Jennifer Egan, Joshua Ferris, Karen Joy Fowler, Siri Hustvedt, Joseph O'Neill, Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child, Barbara Kingsolver, Clive Cussler, Anita Shreve and Philip Pullman.
Qualcomm 'nearly done,' Microsoft well underway
Following international criticism, China's antitrust regulators vigorously defended ongoing antitrust actions. With concern from other nations growing over 30 multinational firms coming under fire for alleged anti-trust activity, the three heads of China's anti-trust regulatory agencies stood fast with their convictions that what they are doing is being accomplished "legally, transparently and fairly," according to China's Premier Li Keqiang.
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.
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.
States, consumer groups may need to wait until first appeal is heard
The Second US Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear Apple's emergency request to overturn Judge Denise Cote's latest denial, and could temporarily halt the efforts of multiple state attorneys general and consumer group to launch a class-action lawsuit against Apple for damages related to its alleged price-fixing conspiracy with publishers. Apple has argued that the class-action should be put on hold while it appeals the original decision.
Latest in long string of denials may be appealed to higher court
Once again, US District Court Judge Denise Cote has denied an Apple motion -- this time asking that the court delay the class-action lawsuit brought by 33 states and various consumer groups while Apple appeals her original guilty verdict in the federal case that alleged Apple led a conspiracy to fix e-book prices. The states are hoping to get further damages from Apple, up to a possible $840 million if the judge triples the damages asked for due to a finding of willful guilt.
Fine assessed for failure to provide documentation in a timely manner
Search engine giant Google has been fined 10 million rupee ($166,000) in India. The penalty has been levied by the nation's antitrust investigative body "for failure to comply with the directions given by the Director General (DG) seeking information and documents." The company is under investigation by India's Competition Commission (CCI), and may face $5 billion in fines for abusing its search engine dominance.
Indian Competition Commission investigating Google's search behaviors
Adding to Google's antitrust woes worldwide, the company is facing an investigation by India's Competition Commission (CCI) in which it may be found liable for up to $5 billion in fines. The investigation, already underway for three years, is similar to that in other countries in claiming that the search engine giant is abusing its industry-leading position and inserting Google services over those of competitors illicitly.
Original judge, DOJ misapplied antitrust law, 'ignored economic evidence'
Two economists from CalTech and NYU have filed an amicus curae ("friend of the court") brief that makes powerful arguments for a reversal of the verdict in the original bench trial overseen by Judge Denise Cote. Across more than 30 pages, they tell the appeals court that fundamental concepts of antitrust law and crucial economic evidence and reasoning were "disregarded" by the judge.
Apple had wanted monitor suspended while appeal goes forward
Apple on Monday lost its bid to halt or replace court-appointed antitrust monitor Michael Bromwich, a friend of trial Judge Denise Cote which the company had strenuously objected to for a variety of reasons. The court, while rejecting Apple's claim that Bromwich's "overreaching" and obnoxious behavior was causing the company "irreparable harm," did set stronger limits on Bromwich's activities -- curtailing most of what Apple had objected to.
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.
Will fight Bromwich appointment, 'roving' investigation, excessive fees and qualifications
Apple has officially filed for an appeal of US District Judge Denise Cote's recent decision, which denied both Apple's request to suspend an antitrust external compliance monitor (ECM) while an appeal of the main judgement is considered, and a request to disqualify the current appointee, Judge Cote's personal friend and former DOJ Inspector General Michael Bromwich.
Logic-defying ruling may inadvertently aid Apple's appeal
Following on from an initial ruling on Monday that ignored Apple's objections, US Federal Judge Denise Cote reinterated her denial of Apple's request for either suspension of a court-appointed antitrust monitor during appeal or at least the replacement of former DOJ Inspector General Michael Bromwich as the monitor in a 64-page ruling. "If anything, Apple's reaction to the existence of a monitorship underscores the wisdom of its imposition," she wrote.
Likely to file emergency appeal to different judge
The same judge who appointed a personal friend with no experience in antitrust compliance, and who had pre-announced Apple's likely guilt ahead of its trial against the Department of Justice over alleged e-book price fixing, has denied the iPhone maker's request to stay the implementation of its antitrust monitor pending appeal. In her ruling, US District Judge Denise Cote also rebuffed Apple's request to disqualify Michael Bromwich, her appointment to the job.
Controversial 'monitor' shows himself to be biased, Apple argues
Apple has filed a formal request with the same judge that appointed the antitrust compliance monitor to have him removed, citing a wide range of complaints and accusations of overreach -- including the monitor's own recent declarations, which the company says prove a pre-existing bias. Former DOJ Inspector General Michael Bromwich was a controversial choice for the post due to his lack of antitrust experience and personal relationship with the judge, among other problems and conflicts of interest.
Cites previous experience, but had to hire anti-trust assistant
Michael Bromwich, a friend of Judge Denise Cote and her appointed antitrust monitor ordered to review changes to Apple's antitrust policies, reiterates in his latest legal brief in a war of words with Apple that the company has been "uncooperative" with regards to his extra-legal investigations and denying Apple's claim that he was conducting a "broad and amorphous inquisition" that had little to do with Apple's e-book business.
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.’