European regulators are investigating Motorola Mobility for allegedly overcharging Microsoft and Apple for use of its industry standard patents in their products, Reuters reported on Tuesday. Both companies filed complaints with the European Commission, which is now conducting the investigation that will look to determine whether Motorola failed to honor its “irrevocable commitments” made to standard-setting organizations. In February, Microsoft had asked antitrust regulators to intervene in its patent dispute with Motorola, claiming the company “has refused to make its patents available at anything remotely close to a reasonable price.” In its complaint, the software giant also named Google, which is in the process of acquiring Motorola. Regulators confirmed that they are investigating Samsung as well in order to determine whether or not the company violated European antitrust laws in its patent disputes with Apple. More →
Apple has been subpoenaed by the United Stated Federal Trade Commission as part of an antitrust investigation of Google, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. The FTC is reportedly interested in an agreement with Apple that made Google the default search engine on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. “As mobile search gets more widespread, the default setting becomes more significant,” antitrust lawyer Allen Grunes told Bloomberg. The FTC has been looking into Google’s business practices — specifically, its search business — for almost a year.
Interpol on Tuesday announced that 25 suspected members of the hacker group “Anonymous” have been arrested in a raid across Europe and South America. The suspected members ranged in age from 17 to 40 and are accused of planning coordinated cyber-attacks against various government institutions, such as Colombia’s defense ministry and presidential Web sites, Chile’s Endesa electricity company and national library and other targets. The arrests were the result of an ongoing investigation by local and federal police agencies, which searched 40 locations in 15 cities and seized 250 pieces of technology equipment since mid-February. “This operation shows that crime in the virtual world does have real consequences for those involved, and that the Internet cannot be seen as a safe haven for criminal activity, no matter where it originates or where it is targeted,” Acting INTERPOL Executive Director of Police Services Bernd Rossbach said. Read on for Interpol’s press release.
In 1991, Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs was considered for a sensitive position in the Bush Administration, according to a recently released FBI dossier. The 191-page file reveals a background investigation conducted on Jobs when he was being considered for the President’s Export Council. When the Bureau spoke with individuals who knew Jobs, it received a large number of negative feedback with many saying that “Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals.” The FBI was also concerned about Jobs’s prior drug usage and estranged relationship with his daughter, Lisa, who was born out of wedlock. There were a large number of people who praised his upstanding moral character, however, and recommended him for the appointment. The material also contains previously unknown details about Jobs, such as a 1985 threat made against his life. More →
The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it has opened a formal investigation into Samsung’s competitive practices. The Commission will assess whether the Korean manufacturer “used certain of its standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European mobile device markets, in breach of EU antitrust rules.” Samsung has used a collection of its patents to launch a series of lawsuits against rival companies, such as Apple. The technology giant maintains, however, that these patents are essential to implementing European mobile telephony standards. Samsung may now be in violation of a promise it made in 1998, when the company gave its “irrevocable commitment to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to license any standard essential patents relating to European mobile telephony standards on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.” Read on for the Commission’s full press release. More →
Officials in the European Union will decide by the end of March whether or not to formally investigate Google. An informal investigation into Google’s practices has been ongoing since November 2010. “I will receive comments from the case team towards the end of the first quarter,” European Union competition commissioner Joaguin Alumnia told Reuters. “I do not expect anything sooner. Let us see.” 10 different firms have filed anti-competition complaints against Google with the European Commission. The United States Federal Trade Commission announced in June that it was also reviewing Google’s business practices related to search and online advertising. Watchdog groups such as Fairsearch.org have accused Google of engaging “in anti-competitive 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.” Google, however, has said that its business practices will stand up to ongoing investigations. “These are the principles that guide us, and we know they’ll stand up to scrutiny,” Google Fellow Amit Singhal said in June. More →
LightSquared has asked NASA’s inspector general to investigate whether or not an advisor to federal agencies has conflicts of interest that make it unfair for him to determine whether or not LightSquared’s 4G LTE network interferes with GPS networks. The advisor was named as Bradford Parkinson, who works both as a vice chairman of Trimble Navigation, an industry board that advises federal agencies on GPS technology, and also as a Stanford University professor, The Wall Street Journal said Friday. “His involvement on both has been known by everyone involved since concerns of GPS interference by LightSquared were raised,” a GPS coalition spokesperson Dale Leibach told The Wall Street Journal. Read on for more. 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 →
Documents related to a Senate inquiry into Carrier IQ and its smartphone software reveal that Sprint is by far the company’s biggest carrier client in the United States. Sprint stated in a letter to Senator Al Franken, which is now public record, that Carrier IQ software is installed on more than 26 million of its handsets. A similar letter from AT&T states that the mobile tracking software is installed on 900,000 AT&T phones, but the carrier said it is only collecting data from approximately 575,000 of them. Both companies reaffirmed earlier statements claiming they only use Carrier IQ software for diagnostic purposes and not to gather private user data or to track subscribers. “Sprint has not used Carrier IQ diagnostics to profile customer behavior, serve targeted advertising, or for any purpose not specifically related to certifying that a device is able to operate on Sprint’s network or otherwise to improve network operations and customer experiences,” Sprint wrote in its letter. AT&T made similar claims. A link to Senator Franken’s full response to the letters, which includes links to letters from Sprint, AT&T, Samsung and HTC regarding their use of Carrier IQ, follows below. Samsung states in its letter that Carrier IQ is installed on approximately 25 million of its smartphones, and HTC says roughly 6.3 million of its handsets shipped with the software pre-installed. More →
Federal investigators have launched a probe in order to examine Carrier IQ’s smartphone software, which tracks a range of activity and sends certain data to wireless carriers without users’ knowledge. Carrier IQ executives met with officials from both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commuission on Tuesday, The Washington Post reports. “We are complying with all investigations at this time as we have nothing to hide,” said Carrier IQ representative Mira Woods. “We have been completely transparent through this process.” Read on for more. More →
European Union regulators have temporarily stopped investigating Google’s planned $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility until more information is made available. The antitrust investigation will resume after “certain documents that are essential to its evaluation of the transaction” are provided to the European Union, Amelia Torres, a spokeswoman for the government agency explained. The suspension went into effect on December 6th and it is unclear how long it will last. Bloomberg said the regulatory investigation is expected to finish up sometime next year. Google announced on August 15th its intentions to purchase Motorola Mobility. At least one expert has said the deal will be a “big mistake,” but Google has explained that Motorola’s patents will help it assist its Android partners in legal battles with competitors such as Microsoft and Apple. More →
The European Commission announced Tuesday that it has opened formal proceedings to investigate whether or not major eBook publishers, possibly “with the help of Apple,” are “engaged in anti-competitive practices affecting the sale of eBooks.” The publishing companies named in the investigation include Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck. “The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition in the EU or in the EEA,” the European Commission said in a statement. It is unclear how long the investigation will take. A press release from the European Commission follows after the break. More →