Microsoft’s Ballmer: Google Is A “Monopoly”

google-legal-law Microsoft, the company stung a decade ago in the US by being branded a monopoly and then in Europe by having to pay and pay again for its past tactics, is arguing that regulators need to subject its foe Google to the same treatment. At a recent meeting of financial analysts Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer characterized Google as a search "monopoly," implying the company needed to be restrained by regulation. "They have this incredible, amazing, dare I say monopoly that we are the only person left on the planet trying to compete with," Ballmer is quoted saying. (Danny Sullivan offers an extensive [...]


Google Says 20% Time Is Still Core Part Of Company Culture

google-20percent-featured As it turns out, rumors of the demise of Google's 20-percent time have been greatly exaggerated. A Google spokesperson confirmed today that employees are still encouraged to pursue ideas that might fall outside of their normal work scope, or what has commonly been referred to as Google's "20% time." A story earlier today from Quartz.com claimed Google's 20-percent time was "as good as dead." The report sparked a debate on Hacker News, and has now resulted in a follow-up article with comments from anonymous Googlers alleging Quartz.com's earlier report was "flat-out" wrong. "As a Googl [...]


Microsoft’s Latest Scroogled Target: Google’s “Gspam” Ads That Look Like Email

gspam Microsoft has taken another shot at Google today with the latest push in its ongoing "Scroogled" campaign. This one? Another attack on Gmail. Or, as Microsoft is calling it today, "Gspam." That's the term they're using for those ads that look like emails in Gmail (which, last I recall hearing, was still a limited Google test). From today's update on Scroogled.com: Consumers should be able to trust their email provider to protect them from spam, but Google is doing just the opposite. Rather than protect you from spam, Google is reading your private email conversations and using what they fi [...]


Europe Calls For More Concessions From Google, Survey Says “Rival Links” Not Enough

google-eu-200px European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia held a news conference this morning during which he said Google will need to offer further concessions to avoid antitrust fines. According to the NY Times, Almunia said that Google needs to "improve" its current proposal: "I concluded that the proposals that Google sent to us months ago are not enough to overcome our concerns." Almunia has reportedly asked Google's Eric Schmidt "to present better proposals, or improved proposals.” As I've previously indicated, Almunia's position is strange, given my understanding that he was di [...]


Would Europe “Ban” Google Universal Search Results?

Google Europe legal As Google's critics and rivals in Europe become increasingly vocal and aggressive in their campaign against the company's proposed antitrust settlement, the European Commission (EC) has some egg on its face. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia negotiated the current settlement with Google over a period of months. The specific provisions, including the controversial "rival links" concept, were entirely known to him and colleagues when the proposal was released for "market testing" third-party reaction and comment. It was also entirely predictable that FairSearch.org and other anti [...]


Europe: Google Wins “Censorship” Battle, Slammed On Antitrust Proposals

Google Europe legal Google's struggles in Europe continue. However the company apparently has won something of a reprieve in its battle against the emerging "the right to be forgotten," which Google largely regards as censorship. But on the antitrust front, Google faces stepped up criticism of its settlement proposals from critics and opponents. On Monday, an advisory (non-binding) opinion from Niilo Jaeaeskinen of the EU Court of Justice found that Google cannot (or should not) be compelled to de-index material that was originally legally posted on third-party publisher sites. According to an article appe [...]


To Avoid Copyright Liability, Google News Goes Opt-In In Germany

google-legal-law Earlier this year, a new, more restrictive copyright law was passed in Germany that gave publishers near total control over the use of their content (there's no "fair use" doctrine in Germany). It was championed by large magazine publishers and newspapers that believed they were being "disintermediated" by search engines and others that were commercially exploiting their content. Google was a prime target of their complaints and the new law. German publishers had hoped to establish a licensing marketplace for their content. Indeed, when the law passed the European Publishers Council iss [...]


Google Has 35 Days To Delete UK “SpyView” Data Or Face “Criminal Action”

google-street-view-car The UK data protection authority Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has served notice that Google must destroy personal information obtained from its Street View WiFi "payload" data collection within 35 days. While Google has a right to appeal the decision, a refusal to comply (absent an appeal) is considered a "criminal office" and could result in prosecution. The ICO letter (.pdf and below) is dated June 11, so the deadline would be mid-July. This ultimatum is the culmination of a UK investigation that began in 2010 following the "WiSpy" revelations that launched investigations [...]


Google Given Privacy Ultimatum By French: Fix It Or Face Fines

google-privacy-200 The French have given Google what amounts to a privacy ultimatum. The company now has three months to make changes or "fixes" to its privacy policy that satisfy French and broader European data protection laws. The immediate consequences for failure to do so could be fines of several million euros according to Bloomberg. Many nations in Europe have lined up behind the French who are taking the lead in trying to get Google to offer more transparency to users about what data are being collected and how those data are being used. European privacy rules are much more stringent than those in the U [...]


Europeans Take New Look At Google’s Android Licensing Practices

google-europe-featured The Financial Times is reporting that Google is now "facing an investigation by European authorities into allegations that it supported the leading Android smartphone platform and its mobile services by means of cut-price licensing and exclusivity deals." There isn't a formal investigation on this question yet. Rather, the European Commission is submitting a questionnaire to device makers and mobile carriers for their input. Google's rivals are undoubtedly behind these complaints to keep pressure on the European Commission, which is on the cusp of settling its antitrust (search-related) in [...]


UK Government Report: Google’s Tax Position “Deeply Unconvincing”

google-legal-law The Guardian reported yesterday that a UK Parliamentary Committee found, essentially, Google had improperly avoided paying taxes in the UK by routing sales through Ireland where corporate tax rates are considerably lower. It's unclear precisely what the immediate legal fallout will be; however the UK report recommends a more formal inquiry. Committee chair MP Margaret Hodge said that Google had "brazenly" sought to avoid taxes in the UK by channeling sales through its Irish subsidiary. However, the UK report determined, based on its investigation and information from "whistleblowers," tha [...]


Scope of Alleged Spying On Americans’ Internet Activity Massive, “Beyond Orwellian”

privacy-security-online-computer It turns out that for the past roughly 6 years, the US government has been "collecting" or "mining" US citizens' personal data and communications from telcos and Internet companies -- effectively "spying" on US citizens. Those data, it has been alleged, come in large part from direct access to the servers of most of the Internet's biggest brands: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL and others. (Dropbox was apparently cited in leaked documents as “coming soon.”) These bombshell disclosures follow yesterday's discovery that the US government was collecting Verizon telephon [...]


Google Stands In For “The Emerald City” In The Internship Movie

Vaughn Wilson The Internship There's a scene near the climax of the film The Internship, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (opening June 7), where they and their team of Google summer interns try to sell a local pizza restaurant on Google advertising (presumably AdWords). Many of the different Google tools and services are paraded out (i.e., search, Google Maps, Google Trends/Insights), while veteran sales guy Vaughn tells the restaurant owner that he, too, was once afraid of change. The scene could be cut out of the move and used as "sales collateral" in Google's effort to bring small businesses into the AdWord [...]


EU-Google “Rival Links” Antitrust Settlement Provision Creates New Controversy

Google Europe legal The US Federal Trade Commission declined to address the alleged "search bias" (vertical search) claim against Google in its settlement with the company earlier this year. It's a highly problematic issue from a legal standpoint but it's the one Google's critics and rivals care most about. In short they would like to blunt or stop Google's ability to place its own content (e.g., Maps, Travel, Shopping) at or near the top of search results (Universal Search). Google's display of structured content at the top of search results is diverting or siphoning off "their" traffic, they argue. Europe [...]


More Antritrust Pain For Google: FTC To Probe Display Ads Biz

google-legal-law According to Bloomberg, Google is facing yet another antitrust headache at the hands of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The agency is fresh off a settlement earlier this year with Mountain View over its search market dominance. This time, the FTC will reportedly be probing the display side of Google's online advertising business. The Bloomberg report says that "The FTC is looking at whether Google is using its tools to force companies to bypass competing products and use other Google properties, including a marketplace for buying and selling Internet display ads, and features that [...]


Apple Targets Samsung Galaxy S4 & “Google Now” With Amended Patent Claims

google-legal-law In the ongoing "war of the worlds" patent litigation between Apple and Samsung/Google, the Cupertino company has said it will amend its patent infringement claims to include the Galaxy S4. That's according to Foss Patents, which also reports that Apple asserts Google Now infringes two patents associated with Siri. Overall, there are five patents being asserted in the amended Apple pleadings (below). The Siri-related patents are U.S. Patent No. 8,086,604 and U.S. Patent No. 6,847,959, which pertain to a "universal interface for retrieval of information in a computer system." Apple is [...]


Two New Shoes Drop On Google: UK Tax Whistleblower And Canadian Antitrust Action

google-legal-law Within a roughly 48-hour period, Google got two big helpings of bad news. According to the Canadian newspaper Financial Post, the country's Competition Bureau is preparing to launch a formal antitrust investigation into Google's Canadian business operations. The scope and precise focus of the Canadian investigation have not been revealed. Google has a nearly 90 percent search market share in Canada according to StatCounter. Bing and Yahoo combine for less than 10 percent of the market. The other shoe comes from across the Atlantic where a former UK Google employee, Barney Jones, now has [...]


Microsoft Slams Google In Nasty, Internal Parody Of Chrome Ad

scroogled-chrome You're not supposed to see this video. Unless you work at Microsoft. It's a fake Chrome ad that's part of Microsoft's ongoing "Scroogled" campaign against Google, but it was supposed to remain internal. It appeared first on a blog called iCosmoGeek and has now been picked up by the Los Angeles Times. The Times says it has confirmation from Microsoft that the video was made for internal purposes. The video plays up many of the same charges that Microsoft has been making throughout the Scroogled campaign -- tracking users to target ads, not respecting users' privacy and so forth. He [...]


Study Finds Only 35% Of Google Products Have Closed Throughout Google’s History

google-reader-closed-featured Google's prompt closing of Google Reader earlier this year led many users to wonder what products will end up on the chopping block next. Thanks to a study conducted by www.gwern.net predicting Google shut-downs, Ars Technica reports that of all Google products offered over the years, only 35 percent have been terminated. After analyzing data collected on 350 Google products to identify predictive variables, the 35 percent that were shut-down appear to have four similar characteristics: they were not part of an acquisition, they did not generate revenue, they were not related to social netw [...]


Europe Finds That Google’s Motorola Unit “Abused Its Dominant Position” In Patent Fight With Apple

Google Europe The European Commission has made a preliminary determination that Google's Motorola Mobility unit "abused its dominant position" under EU antitrust rules in seeking to obtain and enforce an injunction against Apple in Germany. At the center of the dispute is Motorola's claimed misuse of  "standards essential patents" in mobile patent litigation against Apple. Google's antitrust settlement with the FTC in the US requires the company not to use standards-essential patents to block rival mobile products. The European Commission says that's what Motorola was trying to do in this case. Howe [...]


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