Google Opposes Antitrust Accusations in Russia


Google is no stranger to being faced with anti-trust rulings worldwide, but this is the first time that the accusations have been put forth in Russia.

Back in September this year, the Russian search engine Yandex filed a complaint against Google with the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, which ruled in favor of Yandex. The complaint was centered on accusing Google of misusing its power as the provider of the popular Android operating system to pre-load the system with potentially dozens of mandatory Google applications.

As a result of the ruling, Google would be given until December the 18th to renegotiate its contracts with smartphone manufacturers to ensure compliance. This would mean that Google would be forced to sell Android phones pre-loaded with nothing but the Google Play Store.

Google seems to have no intention to take the ruling as is however, stating that they “intend to contest this decision and explain in court why we consider it unfounded,” on their Russian blog. Yandex rose to the challenge in a statement to Reuters, “Yandex is confident in every point of its position. We are ready for the appeal and welcome the most open trial.”

It seems like this is just the start of the battle between Google and Yandex, with Yandex requesting an investigation into potential infringements by Google from the EU, implicating Google in those territories too. And from a statement by the EU that Google is already under investigation, it seems like Yandex is not the only company to take issue with Google on the antitrust front.

It seems like Google will have to try to strike a balance between providing Android to the masses and pushing its own products on the platform by default if they want to escape flak from the rest of the industry. The question is, were Android not to come packaged with all the Google apps we are used to, would many users just not install them manually anyway?

EU Antitrust Probe Could Put an End to Geo-Blocking

The European Union (EU) has started an antitrust investigation into a number of Hollywood film studios and the UK satellite programming provider Sky. The European Commission (EC), which is investigating the companies on behalf of the EU, has the ultimate aim of abolishing geo-blocked film and television content, and has made its objections to geographical restrictions clear to six major studios, including Warner Bros., Disney, and Paramount.

TV and movie content is often region-locked and only available for a limited period due to complex and exploitative licensing agreements that favour the studios over the content provider, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video, a practice the EC intends to put an end to.

The EU has US studios Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, and Warner Bros, plus SKY UK, in its crosshairs, sending a statement of objections to all seven before launching its antitrust probe.

Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy, says of the antitrust investigation, “European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU.”

“Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today, also because licensing agreements between the major film studios and Sky UK do not allow consumers in other EU countries to access Sky’s UK and Irish pay-TV services, via satellite or online,” she added.

The EC has outlined its intent “to end unjustified geo-blocking,” a practice it describes as “a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons.”

The gist of the EU’s ire is, if content is available in one European member state, it should be available to all other member states equally. The EU is a community of countries and, as such, one member should not have any rights or privileges that another does not or cannot enjoy. We’re all equal, or something. Bloody hippies.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Search Engine Land.

Comcast Attempt to Consume Time Warner Cable Fails

Comcast has at last given up on their attempt to merge with rival Time Warner Cable. Since the announcement of the merger early last year, the two largest cable providers in the United States have struggled against stiff consumer opposition. The final blow was struck as officials in the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice both started anti-trust investigations into the merger. If the merger had gone through, Comcast would have controlled over 57% of the broadband market with over 33 million customers.

Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts gave the following statement:

“Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away. Comcast NBCUniversal is a unique company with strong momentum. Throughout this entire process, our employees have kept their eye on the ball and we have had fantastic operating results. I want to thank them and the employees of Time Warner Cable for their tireless efforts. I couldn’t be more proud of this company and I am truly excited for what’s next.”

Opponents of the merger claimed that the result would have created an unstoppable monopoly and harmed competition. Comcast argued that the merger would have saved them billions in redundancies and that the two companies don’t compete against each other anyway. Two of the major complaints were Comcast’s terrible customer service track record and the fact that Comcast were unable to promise any savings to customers as a result of the merger.

Steve Jobs to Appear In Court Over iPod Lawsuit (Yes, Really)

No, you are not seeing things, that headline is true. In an example of Steve Jobs’ superhuman nature, tomorrow he will appear in court to argue over an iPod antitrust case. He isn’t exactly rising from the dead, but rather he will appear in a video deposition recorded before his death.

The New York Times says that the video will join emails from the Apple co-founder, in a case against Apple’s early practice of barring music from other download services being playable on the iPod. Yes, in the early days of the iPod you were only allowed to play music either from Apple’s iTunes Store or music ripped from CDs.

It’s been argued that this was an unlawful practice, harming competition, while Apple is reportedly planning to argue that the success of the iPod and iTunes has meant that the price of iPods has fallen over the 13 years they’ve has been available, benefiting consumers. The company will be bringing SVPs Phil Schiller and Eddy Cue to support their side of the case.

Source: 9to5Mac

Qualcomm May Be Facing EU Antitrust Probe

Sources have leaked to Reuters that Qualcomm, the number one mobile chip-maker in the world, may face European antitrust investigations in relation to a four year old complaint by British cellphone chip-maker Icera. Icera was acquired by Nvidia in 2011.

“The Commission may open a case after the summer,” said the source, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The original details of the case were never made public, but the sources tell that Icera had accused Qualcomm of using patent-related incentives and exclusionary pricing of chipsets to discourage customers from doing business with them.

Not much has happened up until now, and it is pretty normal for the European courts. They take their sweet time to build the case and wait for the right time. Regulators now decided to fast-track the case after Europe’s second highest court in June upheld a record €1.1 billion EU fine against Intel for dominant market abuse. Companies can be fined as much as 10 percent of their global revenues for breaching EU antitrust rules.

This isn’t the first time Qualcomm is in the EU-courts spotlight. Back in 2010 a four-year probe into the company was scrapped after Swedish Ericsson and U.S. Texas Instruments withdrew their objections against the company.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of incept.