FTC may subpoena Google in anti-trust investigation

By on June 24, 2011 at 11:10 AM.

FTC may subpoena Google in anti-trust investigation

The Federal Communications Commission may subpoena Google during the next five days as part of an anti-trust investigation related to the company’s search and web advertising practices. According to The Wall Street Journal, it is only illegal to purchase or abuse a monopoly, and so a subpoena and an investigation aren’t particularly damning to Google. Reportedly, investigators will examine if the search giant has purposely pushed users towards using its own services, as opposed to those offered by its rivals, using its own online advertising and search network. “Google engages in anticompetitive behavior…that harms consumers by restricting the ability of other companies to compete to put the best products and services in front of Internet users, who should be allowed to pick winners and losers online, not Google,” Fairsearch.org said. The watchdog group is representing a number of Google competitors Expedia, Kayak, Sabre Holdings, and Microsoft. Google faced a similar threat from the Justice Department in April when it proposed buying ITA software, but it settled by allowing the government body to examine some of its practices. The WSJ said a subpoena and an investigation could take a year to wrap-up, and it’s entirely possible nothing will change. More →

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Apple, Google, others hit with antitrust class action lawsuit over ‘no solicitation’ agreements

By on May 4, 2011 at 7:09 PM.

Apple, Google, others hit with antitrust class action lawsuit over ‘no solicitation’ agreements

Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe are among the companies named in a new class actions lawsuit filed on Wednesday in the state of California. The suit, filed by former Lucasfilm software engineer Siddharth Hariharan, alleges that Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar violated antitrust laws by conspiring to fix employee pay.” Hariharan claims that these companies have colluded to limit career opportunities and impose artificial salary caps for employees by entering into agreements that prevented the companies named in the suit from hiring employees away from each other. “My colleagues at Lucasfilm and I applied our skills, knowledge, and creativity to make the company an industry leader,” Hariharan said in a statement.  “It’s disappointing that, while we were working hard to make terrific products that resulted in enormous profits for Lucasfilm, senior executives of the company cut deals with other premiere high tech companies to eliminate competition and cap pay for skilled employees.” Hit the break for the full press release. More →

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AT&T’s T-Mobile acquisition to receive in-depth Department of Justice investigation

By on May 3, 2011 at 3:59 PM.

AT&T’s T-Mobile acquisition to receive in-depth Department of Justice investigation

The Department of Justice will perform an “in-depth” investigation of AT&T’s proposition to acquire T-Mobile USA, Reuters is reporting. Such an investigation comes as no surprise, as one FCC official assured the public on April 14th that the acquisition would get a thorough review from government antitrust and communications officials. Bloomberg says that the DoJ can issue a decision in as little as 30 days, however, a “second request,” could mean that the investigation will take longer. AT&T announced its plan to purchase T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion on March 20th. Despite Sprint’s claims that the acquisition will stifle competition in the U.S. wireless market, AT&T has argued that the deal will fuel economic growth and create new jobs. More →

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AT&T's T-Mobile acquisiton to get thorough review, FCC official says

By on April 14, 2011 at 12:27 PM.

AT&T's T-Mobile acquisiton to get thorough review, FCC official says

AT&T’s plans to purchase Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile USA will get a thorough examination from government agencies, including antitrust and communications investigators, an FCC aide affirmed on Thursday. AT&T proposed the $39 billion deal on March 20th and a company spokesperson told Bloomberg that Ma Bell plans to file its official application to the Federal Communications Commission “around April 21st.” Once the application has been submitted, the FCC reportedly has 180 days to grant approval. However, one FCC employee told Bloomberg that the FCC isn’t always limited to 180 days, so it could take a bit longer before a final decision is released. The deal has been openly opposed by Sprint, which claimed the transaction would “harm consumers and harm competition at a time when this country can least afford it,” and one anonymous FCC official has said “there’s no way the chairman’s office [will] rubber-stamp” the deal. AT&T’s CEO Randall L. Stephenson sees things differently. On March 30th he said the acquisition will immediately improve reliability for AT&T customers, and argued that there’s plenty of wireless competition in the United States that will continue to help push prices down for consumers. More →

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FTC may investigate Google in antitrust case

By on April 6, 2011 at 6:45 AM.

FTC may investigate Google in antitrust case

Google’s plan to acquire ITA Software may result in an antitrust probe by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), two sources speaking to Bloomberg said Tuesday. The FTC is currently waiting for the Justice Department to render a decision on whether or not the acquisition will stifle competition among firms competing for clicks in the travel search engine market. Both the FTC and the Justice Department are capable of executing an antitrust investigation, and some pundits believe the scale of this probe could match that of the Justice Department’s antitrust investigation of Microsoft during the 1990’s. The search engine giant “could fight the FTC, but that’s going to cost a lot of money and time,” Keith Hylton, an antitrust law professor at Boston University School of Law told Bloomberg. Google also faces an antitrust probes abroad. On March 31st Microsoft filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission in regards to Google’s search operations and practices in the European Union, alleging that Google has made it harder for other firms to compete in the search market there. Google announced that it had plans to acquire ITA Software, a firm that helps airlines manage flight times and sell tickets at the best prices, in July of 2010. Google hopes to use the acquisition to create new flight search tools that will allow consumers to find better flight options and prices. More →

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Court orders Steve Jobs to answer questions in iTunes antitrust case

By on March 22, 2011 at 11:59 AM.

Court orders Steve Jobs to answer questions in iTunes antitrust case

A federal judge has ordered Apple CEO Steve Jobs to court where he will have to answer questions pertaining to an antitrust case. Filed in 2005, the antitrust suit alleges that Apple’s iTunes service had a monopoly on the digital music downloading market. According to a Bloomberg report, the deposition of Jobs will be no longer than two hours and questions must relate only to changes Apple made to its software in 2004 that prevented RealNetworks’ music files from being played on Apple’s iPod line of devices. “The court finds that Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge about the issues at the center of the dispute over RealNetworks software,” the judge wrote in the order. Steve Jobs is currently on medical leave from Apple for an undisclosed period of time. Unlike his last leave of absence in 2009, however, Jobs is still acting as CEO during his leave and is involved with major strategic decisions. More →

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Verizon Wireless CEO says company has no interest in buying Sprint

By on March 22, 2011 at 9:41 AM.

Verizon Wireless CEO says company has no interest in buying Sprint

Verizon Wireless CEO Daniel Mead said on Monday that the company has no interest in a merger with Sprint, a notion that had been tossed around by analysts over the weekend following news that AT&T intends to Acquire T-Mobile USA. “We’re not interested in Sprint. We don’t need them,” Mead told Reuters reporters in Florida ahead of this year’s CTIA Wireless conference. Should AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA from European telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom receive regulatory approval, AT&T would become the nation’s top wireless carrier by subscriber count. Verizon Wireless currently holds the No. 1 position, which it took from AT&T back in January 2009 when the carrier completed its acquisition of top regional carrier Alltel. AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile USA stands to create a much more substantial lead where subscriber count is concerned, however, making AT&T home to over 130 million wireless subscribers compared to Verizon Wireless’ 102 million. More →

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Nokia Siemens Networks looking to renegotiate $1.2B Motorola deal

By on March 16, 2011 at 1:45 AM.

Nokia Siemens Networks looking to renegotiate $1.2B Motorola deal

Nokia Siemens Networks is trying to renegotiate a $1.2 billion network infrastructure assets purchase from Motorola, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg. In an effort to please Chinese authorities, which have delayed the purchase due to antitrust concerns, Nokia Siemens Networks is seeking to leave Motorola Solutions’ GSM unit out of the purchase, and adjust the deal accordingly. Chinese authorities began investigating the purchase after Huawei filed a lawsuit against Motorola in January — accusing Motorola of giving its intellectual property to Nokia Siemens. It’s unclear what the new purchase price will be with the GSM unit out of the equation. More →

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EU to investigate Google for anticompetitive advertising practices

By on November 30, 2010 at 7:11 AM.

EU to investigate Google for anticompetitive advertising practices

Bloomberg is reporting that European Union antitrust regulators are preparing to launch an investigation aimed at concluding whether or not search giant Google “imposes exclusivity obligations on advertising partners.” Several companies, including Microsoft, are claiming that Google is preventing said partner-sites from placing ads for “competing services” on their websites. Foundem, a U.K. based price-comparison site, said Google was “stifling innovation” and that the company “should not be allowed to discriminate in favor of its own services.” In a written statement, Google explained: “There’s always going to be room for improvement and so we’ll be working with the commission to address any concerns.” The European Commission can levy fines of up to 10% of a company’s revenue for monopolistic practices. More →

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Qualcomm at the center of EU antitrust investigation

By on June 17, 2010 at 3:25 PM.

Qualcomm at the center of EU antitrust investigation

qualcomm-logo

Qualcomm is now at the center of a European Commission antitrust investigation, it was revealed on Thursday. Stemming from a complaint from rival chipmaker Icera, the Wall Street Journal is claiming that “the main issue appears to be over the way Qualcomm links the patents from other companies to its own patent offering to bolster its chip sales.” For its part, Qualcomm says that the new allegations are more or less the same as previous antitrust case it fended off in 2005 in which six major competitors alleged the chipmaking giant was charging too much in royalty fees and making it difficult for new entrants to break into the mobile chipset market. More →

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FTC to formally investigate Apple's iPhone policies

By on June 12, 2010 at 3:04 PM.

FTC to formally investigate Apple's iPhone policies

Apple Logo-Black + White

According to a new report, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have come to an agreement that the latter will open a formal investigation into Apple’s iPhone policies. The investigation will look into whether or not Apple’s prohibiting developers from using cross-compilers is anti-competitive. It is unclear whether or not the FTC will also look at Apple’s ban of Adobe Flash on iOS devices as well as section 3.3.9 of the iOS developers agreement which blocks Google’s AdMob from serving ads on the iPhone and iPad. The Department of Justice is said to be in the preliminary stages of an investigation into whether or not Apple has an unfair advantage in digital music distribution. But for the matter at hand, the FTC faces a tough challenge with its investigation. Apple claims it is essential that iOS applications are natively developed to ensure quality and compatibility. Previous experiments with cross-compilers led to what Apple claims were inferior applications, something it fears could damage the platforms reputation for quality applications. On the other hand, many believe that Apple enjoys far too much control over its products and this creates a lack of competition which does nothing but hurt developers and consumers alike. Neither Apple nor the FTC have commented on the matter. More →

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Feds taking a close look at Apple's mobile advertising policies

By on June 10, 2010 at 3:07 PM.

Feds taking a close look at Apple's mobile advertising policies

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Surprise! The U.S. government is once again going to throw Apple under the microscope and investi alleged anti-competitive practices, this time for the new language Apple is using in section 3.3.9 of its developers agreement which appears to be directed straight at Google’s AdMob. This information comes to us by way of The Financial Times. This would mark the second time that federal regulators have looked at Apple relating to mobile ads and one of many other preliminary investigations. It was just yesterday that AdMob broke its silence on the matter and went on the offensive saying that Apple is putting up “artificial barriers to competition” which will only serve to “hurt users and developers and, in the long run, stall technological progress.” The question in this case appears to be whether or not Apple’s fiercely competitive tactics with iOS advertising are legal or warrant anti-trust action. More →

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DoJ extends Apple antitrust probe to other forms of media beyond music

By on May 30, 2010 at 10:27 AM.

DoJ extends Apple antitrust probe to other forms of media beyond music

Apple Logo-Black + White

The U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation of Apple’s alleged anti-competitive practices has grown to include video and other forms of multimedia, the New York Post is reporting. Citing multiple sources, the Post claims that the DoJ has queried several major media companies asking whether or not they feel Apple is in a position of undue influence over their products. A similar investigation focusing on Apple’s dominance in digital music was said to have commenced earlier this week. Whether or not this will eventually lead to a full-blown antitrust lawsuit being slapped against Apple is unclear, but it seems logical that if anyone is going want to do battle with Apple it’s the tough-talking Hollywood folk. As one of the Post’s insiders said, “you can’t dictate terms to the industry.” Trust us, we know. More →

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