Google Fined For “Non-Cooperation” In Indian Antitrust Inquiry

computer-internet-legal-law-featured The Google antitrust drama keeps migrating east. First the US FTC settled its investigation of Google without any significant penalty or restrictions. More recently, the long European antitrust inquiry appears to be "essentially" over, with a settlement built on the presentation of "rival links." Google is also in the midst of an antitrust, anti-competition investigation in India. (There's also and ongoing antitrust investigation in Canada). Things are now heating up in the Indian case. Last week, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) decided to impose a fine on Google "not pr [...]


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 [...]


South Korea Drops Antitrust Investigation Against Google

google-legal-law In early 2011, South Korean search and portal providers NHN Corp. and Daum Communications filed antitrust complaints with the South Korean equivalent of the US Fair Trade Commission against Google. Both companies claimed that Google had blocked them from putting their search apps on Android phones in South Korea. Today, it was reported (via NextWeb) that Google has been cleared in the investigation. NHN’s complaint originally alleged that “Google has banned South Korean phone manufacturers from including Web search applications made by other companies under its marketing contracts . [...]


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 [...]


Google’s $1 Billion Waze Acquisition To See Antitrust Review

waze-featured It will probably just be a formality; however, Google confirmed this weekend that its proposed acquisition of social mapping platform Waze will undergo US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) antitrust scrutiny. Waze's revenues are minimal; but, the acquisition price is surely what got the FTC's attention. In addition, Waze becomes one fewer potential mapping challenger in the marketplace. According to the Wall Street Journal, the FTC "is expected to focus on whether Waze would have become a head-to-head competitor with Google, whose Google Maps software is the dominant digital mapping and naviga [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


New Google Antitrust Complaint In Europe Calls Android A “Trojan Horse”

Google Europe Yesterday, the Fairsearch.org coalition, now featuring Oracle and Nokia, filed a fresh antitrust complaint in Europe against Google. The complaint focuses on Android and calls the operating system a "'Trojan Horse' to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace and control consumer data." Fairsearch cites data showing that Android dominates the smartphone market in Europe to the tune of a roughly 70 percent market share. It also cites Google's dominance of the mobile search market (96 percent share). However, StatCounter shows a smaller OS share for Android in Europe (46 percent vs [...]


EU Imposes €561 Million ($731 Million) Fine On Microsoft — With Google In Mind

European EU flag The European Commission has made good on its promise last week to fine Microsoft for failing to continue to offer Web browser choice on its PC software through 2014. The Commission imposed a fine of €561 million ($731 million) for not upholding its agreement to offer alternative Web browsers to Windows users. In 2009, Microsoft agreed with the Commission to offer a browser "choice screen" (featuring IE, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) on its Windows PC software to enable consumers to make a browser selection and not simply "choose" IE by default. That choice screen reportedly disappeared in Febr [...]


China Sounds Alarm About Android Market Dominance

android-featured While Google's PC search market share may be hovering below 5 percent, Android is the overwhelmingly dominant smartphone operating system in the world's largest mobile market. As a result China may be preparing to take some sort of regulatory action against it. According to a Reuters report the Chinese government released a white paper, through its state-controlled China Academy of Telecommunication Research, that expresses concern about Android's domestic market share. According to figures cited by Reuters Android is on about 90 percent of Chinese smartphones, while iOS has less than 5 [...]


Google Chairman Schmidt Touts Android Sales: “We’re Like The New Microsoft”

android-apple-ios Amid multiple antitrust investigations around the world, I'm not sure he wanted to suggest that Google was the new Microsoft. But that's the analogy that Google Chairman Eric Schmidt used in his discussion of Android's growth and increasing lead over the iPhone. Quoted in a Bloomberg article Schmidt said the following: Booming demand for Android-based smartphones is helping Google add share at the expense of other software providers, Schmidt said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York . . . Customers are activating more than 1.3 million Android devices a day, [...]


PeopleBrowsr-Twitter Case Illustrates Risks Of Building A Business On Third Party Platforms

twitter-legal-law PeopleBrowsr, the social analytics platform that derives substantially all its data (including its Kred scoring) from access to Twitter's feed, has fallen victim to Twitter's recent ambitions to rein in and exercise more control over its ecosystem. The company, which once promised an open platform and developer access to its data "firehose," has more recently tightened the rules surrounding use of its API. PeopleBrowsr's business is fundamentally threatened by these changes. And so it sought (and obtained) a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing Twitter from cutting off its direct ac [...]


Google Puts “Cookiegate” To Bed As More Legal Battles Loom

google-privacy-200 The incident informally known as "Safarigate" or "Cookiegate" is now behind Google. On Friday, a court approved Google's $22.5 million settlement with the FTC. Some Google critics decried the settlement as having little impact on Google. The episode began in February of this year, when the Wall Street Journal discovered that Google (and others such as Gannett’s PointRoll) were circumventing mobile Safari’s default “no third party cookies” settings in order to track user behaviors. Google contended it was simply trying to make its "+1 buttons" work on iOS. The company argued nothi [...]


Google (As Motorola) Sues Apple Over Patents, Seeks US Import Ban On iPhones, Macs

apple-google-featured Apple has been waging a proxy war with Google and Android through its global litigation with Samsung. Now the companies will be directly battling it out in a new action filed by Google subsidiary Motorola before the US International Trade Commission (ITC). Motorola filed and partly won a patent case before the ITC, prior to the Google acquisition. But this is the first case filed under Google ownership. The earlier Motorola ITC patent victory was based on a single claim related to wireless 3G standards. Motorola seeks an import ban on iPhones in that case. A final decision from the administ [...]


India Begins Formal Antitrust Investigation Against Google

According to Reuters the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has opened a formal antitrust investigation against Google. The article reports that CCI received a complaint that Google had "contravened" an Indian "competition rule." However that rule and the substance of the complaint aren't identified. Google told Reuters that it was cooperating with the CCI and was confident that it hadn't violated any Indian regulations. This is merely the latest legal headache for Google in India. The country has also sought to impose aggressive censorship rules on Google that require Google to block [...]


Patent Chaos: Apple Blocks Galaxy Devices, Googlerola To Face Feds Over Licensing

patent-icon-logo Nobody would disagree with the assertion that the patent system in this country is in a state of chaos. Most of the big internet companies and all the major players in the mobile segment are in litigation over patents, either suing or being sued. It's an incredible waste of time and resources. Among the big match-ups are Apple vs Samsung-Android and Motorola (now Google by virtue of the acquisition) vs Apple and Microsoft. Last week Chicago-based US District Court Judge Richard Posner simply dismissed a closely watched patent case involving Apple and Motorola. Each had sued the other and [...]


Most Legal Experts At Antitrust Conference Appear Skeptical Of Case Against Google

I was asked to speak about the evolution of search and offer some of my thoughts about its future at a conference of legal experts and government officials at George Mason University Law School in Virginia. The conference was the school's "Second Annual Conference on Competition, Search and Social Media." FTC and Google in the house Other than me the speakers were either practicing lawyers, law professors or people who work in Washington at places like the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These are some of the same people deciding whether or not to bring an antitrust case against Google. ( [...]


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