Judge Denise Cote of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has set the date for Apple’s eBook antitrust trial, Reuters reported. The Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against the Cupertino-based company and five other major book publishers — Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Penguin — in April that alleged the companies were conspiring to fix eBook prices. Apple, along with the publishers Macmillan and Penguin Group, are fighting the antitrust case, while News Corp’s HarperCollins, CBS’s Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group have agreed to settle the case out of court. Judge Cote gave the three publishers until the end of the summer to propose a settlement offer to resolve the claims, however if a resolution cannot be met, a trial is set for June 3rd, 2013. More →
Apple, Google and five other technology companies must face an antitrust lawsuit for illegally agreeing to not poach each other’s employees. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, rejected the companies’ bid to dismiss claims brought under the Sherman Act and California state law, Reuters reported on Thursday. In addition to Apple and Google, Intel, Adobe, Pixar, Intuit and Lucasfilm are accused of entering into the illegal agreements. The proposed class action lawsuit was filed after five software engineers claimed the companies conspired to reduce employee pay by eliminating competition for skilled labor. More →
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is currently trying to work out a deal with the Department of Justice to allow users to download their personal files that were stored on Megaupload’s servers prior to the service’s closure. “Megaupload’s legal team is working hard to reunite our users with their data,” Dotcom said to TorrentFreak. “We are negotiating with the Department of Justice to allow all Mega users to retrieve their data.” Dotcom, the company’s founder, who was charged with racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering, claims that many high-ranking U.S. government officials were among the users of the popular file sharing website. “Guess what – we found a large number of Mega accounts from U.S. Government officials including the Department of Justice and the U.S. Senate,” he said. “I hope we will soon have permission to give them and the rest of our users access to their files.” More →
Google’s bid to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion is set to gain regulatory approval as soon as next week, multiple reports claim. Google announced last summer that it intended to purchase the struggling smartphone and set-top box maker for $40 per share, and CEO Larry Page explained that Motorola’s patent portfolio was a key draw for the company. Google’s Android partners had fallen under attack from patent predators such as Apple and Microsoft, and the ability to spread Motorola’s patents around as needed could be the only way to save Android. As recent events in Germany have shown, Motorola’s patents could indeed be Android’s best bet. While some regulators apparently remain unconvinced that Google intends to license Motorola’s patents on fair terms, The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal is still on track to gain approval from the Justice Department as early as next week. More →
Barnes & Noble and Microsoft are currently tied up in two separate legal battles, one being heard by the Department of Justice and the other by the International Trade Commission. In March 2011, like previous Android vendors, Microsoft accused Barnes & Noble’s NOOK and NOOK Color of infringing on the company’s patents. The software giant, which takes in roughly $450 million a year through Android royalties, was looking to license the infringed patents to the bookseller, but the company fired back with claims that Microsoft was creating an abusive monopoly. It is now being suggested by patent expert Florian Muller of FOSS Patents that the ITC is likely to reject Barnes & Noble’s antitrust complaint against Microsoft, however. The complete order is not publicly available, but an administrative law judge has reportedly dismissed Barnes & Noble’s patent misuse defense against Microsoft . The judge issued a detailed order that has not yet been made public, but the headline reads, “Initial Determination Granting Microsoft’s Motion for Summary Determination of Respondents’ First Affirmative Defense of Patent Misuse.” The ITC evidentiary hearing will begin on Monday, February 6th. More →
Third-party companies that stored Megaupload’s data may delete all user files on Thursday. Megaupload customers, even those not guilty of piracy or using the service illegally, have been unable to access their files since the website was shut down on January 19th. So far, seven men have been charged for illegally allowing Megaupload users to store and share music, movies and other copyrighted content, among other things. The issue, however, is that millions of Megaupload users used the service legally to store family photos and other personal data. Megaupload doesn’t store the data itself, the AP said Monday, instead it hired Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications Group to store its data. A letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia explained that both companies may begin deleting the data as soon as this Thursday. 50 million users could have their personal photos, videos and music erased; Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken said the company is currently speaking with prosecutors in an effort to save the data.
UPDATE: Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothke on Monday confirmed that Megaupload’s hosting companies have agreed not to delete user files for two weeks, TVNZ reports. “Carpathia and Cogent agreed to preserve consumer data for additional time of at least two weeks so Megaupload can work with US on proposal,” Rothke posted on Twitter.
The Department of Justice recently released information that suggests a number of large U.S. technology companies may have created secret “no poaching” agreements with one another. The companies that have been under investigation include Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, Adobe and Lucasfilm. The alleged no poaching agreements may have been pretty scary: According to TechCrunch, which published the DoJ’s early findings, companies were told to deny offers to anyone who applied for a job voluntarily from competing firms, and were to alert the employee’s current boss. That’s in addition to agreeing not to steal employees from one another. In one excerpt, Adobe’s senior vice president of human resources said: “Bruce [Adobe's former CEO] and Steve Jobs have an agreement that we are not to solicit ANY Apple employees, and vice versa.” The results of the DoJ investigation will be revealed as part of a class-action lawsuit hearing in San Jose next week. More →
The antitrust division of the United States Justice Department will investigate Verizon Wireless’s plans to acquire spectrum from Comcast and its partners for $3.6 billion. Verizon Wireless announced in early December its intentions to purchase 122 AWS spectrum licenses from SpectrumCo, a joint venture between Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The carrier said it plans to use the additional spectrum to build out its 4G LTE network, pending government approval of the purchase. The Justice Department has the power to block the deal, although it is unclear when the investigation will be concluded. More →
Judge Ellen Huvelle approved a joint request by AT&T and the Department of Justice to delay a lawsuit regarding AT&T’s planned purchase of T-Mobile USA. AT&T requested a stay in the suit on Monday and said it was working with Deutsche Telekom to prepare the best defense possible. “We are actively considering whether and how to revise our current transaction to achieve the necessary regulatory approvals so that we can deliver the capacity enhancements and improved customer service that can only be derived from combining our two companies’ wireless assets,” AT&T said in a statement on Monday. The Department of Justice has also sought a delay, or an entire dismissal of the suit, since it believes a ruling is unnecessary now that AT&T has withdrawn its FCC application to purchase T-Mobile USA. “It’s not a real transaction until they file with the FCC,” Justice Department lead attorney Joseph Wayland said recently. The pretrial proceedings for the Department of Justice’s suit against the merger will begin on January 18th, 2012. More →
The Justice Department intends to file a motion next week to delay or dismiss its lawsuit against AT&T’s planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA. The DOJ originally sued AT&T to block the deal in August, and AT&T soon after decided to pull its merger application from the FCC to instead focus on the suit. In light of the withdrawal of AT&T’s merger application, however, the DOJ seemingly no longer has cause to sue. “It’s not a real transaction until they file with the FCC,” Wayland told Judge Ellen Huvelle according to Reuters. With that, it looks we’re now watching at a giant game of cat and mouse. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson recently said that U.S. regulators don’t understand the wireless industry enough to see the benefits of its proposed T-Mobile USA purchase. Earlier Friday he said in an interview that ”regulators can’t keep up with the changes in the industry” and that blocking the merger will increase wireless prices for U.S. consumers. More →
AT&T may propose to divest as much as 40% of T-Mobile USA’s assets in an effort to win approval from the Department of Justice in an upcoming lawsuit against the government agency. The DOJ sued to block the merger on August 31st, when it said “AT&T’s elimination of T-Mobile as an independent, low-priced rival would remove a significant competitive force from the market.” AT&T is planning to divest a lower percentage of spectrum and a higher share of T-Mobile USA’s customers, Bloomberg said Monday. The divestiture may not be enough to add balance to the market, however. “It’s unlikely that the DOJ would allow a big competitor like Verizon to purchase the assets,” Macquarie Securities analyst Kevin Smithen told Bloomberg, which means AT&T may need to rely on smaller regional carriers to pick up the customers and spectrum. More →
AT&T has approached several U.S. wireless carriers offering to sell assets, spectrum and wireless subscribers in an effort to win the government’s blessing for its planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA, Bloomberg reported on Monday. MetroPCS, Leap Wireless, CenturyLink, Dish Network and Sprint were among the the companies approached in the private talks. AT&T’s move is no doubt a response to recent lawsuits that were filed by the Department of Justice and Sprint. The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit on August 31st in an attempt to block the merger, which it said would “remove a significant competitive force from the market.” Seven U.S. states also joined the DOJ’s suit last week. Sprint sued on September 6th and said the merger would “stifle innovation” in the U.S. wireless market. AT&T’s discussions to sell assets may not be enough to sway the Department of Justice in AT&T’s favor and the talks are still preliminary, Bloomberg said. More →
Federal Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle set a hearing for the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against AT&T for September 21st, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. “The parties shall be prepared to discuss the prospects for a settlement” on that date, Huvelle said. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA on August 31st and said “AT&T’s elimination of T-Mobile as an independent, low-priced rival would remove a significant competitive force from the market.” AT&T responded and said it would ask for an expedited hearing and that the DOJ has the “burden of proving alleged anti-competitive affects and [AT&T intends] to vigorously contest this matter in court.” AT&T, Deutsche Telekom and the Department of Justice have been asked to file the initial paperwork for the hearing by September 16th. More →