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Paul Merrell

Google Caves to Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service, Agrees to Pay Fine - nsnbc intern... - 0 views

  • Google ultimately caved to Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service, agreeing to pay $7.8 million (438 million rubles) for violating antitrust laws. The corporate Colossus will also pay two other fines totaling an additional $18,000 (1 million rubles) for failing to comply with past orders issued by state regulators. Last year Google caved to similar demands by the European Union.
  • In August 2016 Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service responded to a complaint by Russian search engine operator Yandex and fined the U.S.-based Google 438 million rubles for abusing its dominant market position to force manufacturers to make Google applications the default services on devices using Android.

    Regulators set the fine at 9 percent of Google’s reported profits on the Russian market in 2014, plus inflation. Similar to the case against the European Union Google challenged the penalty in several appellate courts before finally agreeing this week to meet the government’s demands.

    The corporation also agreed to stop requiring manufacturers to install Google services as the default applications on Android-powered devices. The agreement is valid for six years and nine months, Russia’s Antimonopoly Service reported.

    Last year Google, after a protracted battle, caved to similar antitrust regulations by the European Union, but the internet giant has also come under fire elsewhere. In 2015 Australian treasurer Joe Hockey implied Google in his list of corporate tax thieves. In January 2016 British lawmakers decided to fry Google over tax evasion. Google and taxes were compared to the Bermuda Triangle.

    One year ago the dispute between the European Union’s competition watchdog and Google, culminated in the European Commission formally charging Google with abusing the dominant position of its Android mobile phone operating system, having launched an investigation in April 2015.

Paul Merrell

News - Antitrust - Competition - European Commission - 0 views

    The more interesting issue to me is the accusation that Google violates antitrust law by boosting its comparison shopping search results in its search results, unfairly disadvantaging competing shopping services and not delivering best results to users.

    What's interesting to me is that the Commission is attempting to portray general search as a separate market from comparison shopping search, accusing Google of attempting to leverage its general search monopoly into the separate comoparison shopping search market. At first blush, Iim not convinced that these are or should be regarded as separable markets. But the ramifications are enormous. If that is a separate market, then arguably so is Google's book search, its Google Scholar search, its definition search, its site search, etc. It isn't clear to me how one might draw a defensible line taht does not also sweep in every new search feature  as a separate market.   
Paul Merrell

Excite News - EU files antitrust charges against Google - 0 views

  • BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's competition chief is filing an antitrust complaint alleging Google has been abusing its dominance in Internet searches and is opening a probe into its Android mobile system.

    EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Wednesday she is "concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service."

    Vestager said the separate antitrust probe into Android will investigate whether the Internet giant relies on anti-competitive deals and abuses its dominant position in Europe's mobile market.

    Vestager said her chief goal was to make sure multinationals "do not artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible or stifle innovation".

    Google's general counsel Kent Walker wrote late Tuesday that a "statement of objections" to Google's business practices was to be released by Vestager Wednesday.

Paul Merrell

Gmail blows up e-mail marketing by caching all images on Google servers | Ars Technica - 0 views

    There's an antitrust angle to this; it could be viewed by a court as anti-competitive. But given the prevailing winds on digital privacy, my guess would be that Google would slide by.
Paul Merrell

AT&T Mobility LLC, et al v. AU Optronics Corp., et al :: Ninth Circuit :: US Courts of ... - 0 views

  • Opinion Summary: Plaintiffs alleged that they purchased billions of dollars worth of mobile handsets containing defendants' LCD panels and that the prices they paid for those handsets were artificially inflated because defendants had orchestrated a global conspiracy to fix the prices of LCD panels. The district court certified to the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1292(b) "the question whether the application of California antitrust law to claims against defendants based on purchases that occurred outside California would violate the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution." Because the underlying conduct in this case involved not just the indirect purchase of price-fixed goods, but also the conspiratorial conduct that led to the sale of those goods, the court answered in the negative. To the extent a defendant's conspiratorial conduct was sufficiently connected to California, and was not "slight and casual," the application of California law to that conduct was "neither arbitrary nor fundamentally unfair," and the application of California law did not violate that defendant's rights under the Due Process Clause. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's order dismissing plaintiffs' California law claims and remanded for further proceedings.
    This page includes the opinion of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on an interlocutory appeal from a district court decision to dismiss two California state law causes of action from an ongoing case, leaving only the federal law causes of action. The Ninth Circuit disagreed, vacated the district court's decision, and remanded for consideration of the dismissal issue under the correct legal standard. This was a pro-plaintiff decision that makes it very likely that the case will continue with the state law causes of action reinstated against all or nearly all defendants.

    This is an unusually important price-fixing case with potentially disruptive effect among mobile device component manufacturers and by such a settlement or judgment's ripple effects, manufacturers of other device components globally.

    Plaintiffs are several major  voice/data communications services in the U.S. with the defendants being virtually all of the manufacturers of LCD panels used in mobile telephones. One must suspect that if price-fixing is in fact universal in the LCD panel manufacturing industry, price-fixing is likely common among manufacturers of other device components.

    According to the Ninth Circuit opinion, the plaintiffs' amended complaint includes detailed allegations of specific price-fixing agreements and price sharing actions by principles or agents of each individual defendant company committed within the State of California, which suggests that plaintiffs have very strong evidence that the alleged conspiracy exists.

    This is a case to watch.    
Paul Merrell

EUROPA - Press Releases - Antitrust: Commission opens proceedings against MathWorks - 2 views

    Commission v. MIcrosoft Redux.
Paul Merrell

AT&T/T-Mobile deal offers risk, reward for Obama - Mike Zapler and Brooks Boliek - POLI... - 0 views

  • AT&T's controversial $39 billion bid for T-Mobile officially got under way Thursday, crystallizing a big risk and possibly a big opportunity for President Barack Obama.

    The risk: allowing a deal that could, in time, leave Americans with just two choices for cellphone providers. The potential opportunity: extending high-speed wireless to virtually the entire country, which AT&T has promised if the deal goes through.

  • The political implications don't end there: Blocking the acquisition would mean alienating a stalwart member of the business community. Approving it, critics warn, could lead to steep layoffs as the two phone companies merge overlapping operations.
Gary Edwards

Microsoft Bad. Judge Jackson Worse. - Dahlia Lithwick - Slate Magazine - 0 views

    Microsoft today won the skirmish, the battle, and--in light of the leanings of a Bush/Ashcroft Justice Department--probably the war, in its fight against the pesky antitrust suit that's been nipping at its heels. With much of the decision accusing the behemoth of violating the Sherman Act exploded, Microsoft may now go down in history as the Little Monopolist That Could. In the short run, they've bought more time. In the medium run, settlement is probably inevitable, and in the long run, they have almost no possibility of a breakup. Not a bad day's work for a busy monopolist. (Full disclosure: Microsoft publishes Slate.)
Gary Edwards

How a decade of antitrust oversight has changed your PC | ZDNet- Ed Bot - 1 views

    Summary:  It was 10 years ago this week that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered Microsoft split in two as a remedy for abusing its Windows monopoly. That judgment was tossed out on appeal, but the eventual antitrust settlement has had plenty of repercussions. From crapware to insecurity, here's my wrap-up of what 10 years of antitrust regulation has really accomplished.
Paul Merrell

Kohl Wary Of Comcast-NBCU Deal - Tech Daily Dose - Tech Daily Dose - 0 views

  • An influential Democratic senator urged federal regulators today to only approve the proposed $30 billion merger of Comcast and NBC Universal if they determine that "sufficient conditions" are "unlikely to cause any substantial lessening of competition," CongressDaily reported.
  • Kohl detailed his views in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney. The lawmaker recommended 11 requirements, including the divestiture of NBC's stake in the online video site Hulu, a ban on Comcast shifting marquee NBC content to cable for a decade and restricting Comcast from blocking or degrading competing video services online.

    Kohl weighed in after Congress held four hearings earlier this year on the merger and as lobbying over the transaction continues to intensify. The companies have said they're expecting a regulatory decision in the fourth quarter.

Paul Merrell

U.S. Is Said to Scrutinize Apple's Online Music Tactics - - 0 views

  • The Justice Department is examining Apple’s tactics in the market for digital music, and its staff members have talked to major music labels and Internet music companies, according to several people briefed on the conversations.
  • But people briefed on the inquiries also said investigators had asked in particular about recent allegations that Apple used its dominant market position to persuade music labels to refuse to give the online retailer exclusive access to music about to be released.
  • The inquiry is one of several by the federal government involving Apple. The Federal Trade Commission is moving ahead with a separate investigation of Apple’s rules for developers who create applications for the iPhone operating system, according to a person familiar with that discussion.

    That inquiry, initiated by complaint from Adobe Systems, the maker of the Flash format for Internet video, is said to be in its early stages as well.

  • ...1 more annotation...
  • The Justice Department has also reportedly been investigating the hiring practices at Apple and other top technology companies, including Intel, I.B.M. and Google, asking whether the companies have improperly agreed to avoid hiring each other’s employees.
Paul Merrell

christine varney - Programming Blog - 0 views

  • Consumer Watchdog today called on the Justice Department to guarantee that its

    ongoing antitrust probe of Google
    ’s business practices include an investigation into if the company is manipulating its search results to favor its own products.

    The nonprofit advocacy group said it sent a letter to Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Division, after news that the European Commission had received three complaints against Google alleging the company manipulated search engine results in an anticompetitive way.

    Also this week U.K. based price comparison site Foundem filed papers with the Federal Communications Commission with examples of how Google products were allegedly favored in its search results.

  • ongoing antitrust probe of Google’s business practices include an investigation into if the company is manipulating its search results to favor its own products.

    The nonprofit advocacy group said it sent a letter to Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Division, after news that the European Commission had received three complaints against Google alleging the company manipulated search engine results in an anticompetitive way.

    Also this week U.K. based price comparison site Foundem filed papers with the Federal Communications Commission with examples of how Google products were allegedly favored in its search results.

    If the evidence supports the allegations, this is a plausible antitrust theory, a company with a dominant market position leveraging that position into new markets via integration. In essence this is the same theory as that applied against Microsoft's bundling and integration of Windows, Internet Explorer, and Windows Media Player.  
Paul Merrell

The Past Clouds the Future of Europe's New Antitrust Enforcer - Vox - 0 views

  • Joaquin Almunia left his job as the E.U.’s economics and monetary affairs commissioner this month to become antitrust chief.
  • Christine Varney, the head of the antitrust division at the United States Justice Department, warned European regulators in a speech on Monday to restrict imposing obligations to the European Union on American companies that are doing business globally.

    Regulators in Europe are under pressure from governments, media companies and technology developers to blunt the market power that Google has amassed by running the world’s most popular Internet search tools.

  • Mr. Almunia also will need to resolve whether to give greater freedom to online merchants like eBay and Amazon which, like Google, are based in the United States. Some specialty goods and luxury goods brands, in particular LVMH of France, have lobbied hard to require that merchants have traditional shops as a precondition for selling goods over the Internet.
Paul Merrell

AT&T Centennial Purchase Cleared by Antitrust Agency (Update1) - - 0 views

  • AT&T Inc.’s purchase of Centennial Communications Corp. was approved by the U.S. Justice Department on condition the combined company sells wireless assets in Louisiana and Mississippi.

    AT&T, based in Dallas, agreed to purchase Wall, New Jersey-based Centennial last November for $945 million. Centennial has wireless customers in Puerto Rico and rural areas in the Midwest and Southeast.

  • The deal still awaits approval by the Federal Communications Commission. Ruth Milkman, who heads the FCC’s wireless bureau, told a news conference today the agency will make a decision on the combination “very soon.” The Justice Department said it has cooperated with the FCC in reviewing the deal.
  • In recent months, the FCC has been asking the companies about their connections to America Movil, which has customers in Puerto Rico.

    AT&T and Centennial could have 49 percent of the mobile market in Puerto Rico by the end of 2009, and America Movil’s Claro could have 27 percent, according to an estimate by Jose Magana, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based analyst with Pyramid Research.

Paul Merrell

UPDATE 2-US Justice Dept opens IBM antitrust probe-trade group | Markets | Markets News... - 1 views

    The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into allegations that International Business Machines (IBM.N) abused its dominance of the mainframe business, said Computer and Communications Industry Association chairman Ed Black.
Paul Merrell

Microsoft offers Office 2010 file format 'ballot' to stop EU antitrust probe - 0 views

    Microsoft's proposed undertaking for resolving the ECIS complaint to the European Commission regarding its office productivity software can be downloaded from this linked web page. I've given it a quick skim. Didn't see anything in it for anyone but competing big vendors. E.g., no profiling of data formats for interop of less and more featureful implementations, no round-tripping provisions. Still, some major concessions offered.
Paul Merrell

FCC Questions AT&T, Apple Over Google Voice App Ban - Technology News - redOrbit - 0 views

  • The FCC chairman sent “inquiry letters” to Apple and AT&T on Saturday in order to get answers as to why the companies disapproved of a voice application developed by Google for the iPhone.

    "The Federal Communications Commission has a mission to foster a competitive wireless marketplace, protect and empower consumers, and promote innovation and investment," said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

    The letters involve Apple and AT&T’s latest decision to deny a Google Voice application from being offered on Apple’s App Store for the iPhone.

  • At this point, AT&T holds a contract with Apple making it the exclusive wireless carrier to offer the iPhone.
Paul Merrell

Microsoft's EU Offer Gets Cautious Welcome From Rivals - PC World - 0 views

  • One industry source closer to Microsoft believes the software giant has lost its will to fight in its long-running antitrust battle in Europe.

    "They don't have the appetite to fight anymore. Now their aim is to settle up and make sure that other technology firms, like Google and IBM, are held to the same antitrust standards," said a person familiar with Microsoft's thinking who asked not to be named.

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