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. ( [...]

Keeping The Lawyers Busy: Google Now Faces Antitrust Investigation In India

Google is under antitrust investigations in the US, Europe, Argentina and South Korea. Now India has said it will investigate AdWords for anti-competitive behavior, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The  Competition Commission of India said that although it's initially focused on AdWords the scope of the investigation could expand over time. The WSJ cites data showing that "less than 10% of India's population of 1.2 billion is online" but that Google now controls a "50 percent share of the overall Indian digital ad market." The WSJ described one of the several complaints recei [...]

Argentina, South Korea Add To Google Global Antitrust Woes

On Friday Bloomberg reported that Google was being investigated for antitrust issues in both Argentina and South Korea. The news was obtained from a Google SEC filing. The facts are vague. Both the Argentina and South Korean investigations appear to be ongoing and not new. The South Korean case dates from last year and was initiated by complaints from Google internet rivals Daum and NHN Corp. Android is the focus of the South Korean investigation if it is in fact the same one. Google said it was cooperating with both investigations. According to a statement provided to Bloomberg, "Arg [...]

US FTC Hires Formidable Outside Litigator For Possible Antitrust Case Against Google

google-legal-law Yesterday it was reported that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hired an outside prosecutor to potentially bring an antitrust case against Google. The attorney is Beth A. Wilkinson, a partner at the firm of Paul Weiss and a former Justice Department official who is best known for her role in the conviction of the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. The hiring of Wilkinson doesn't guarantee the US will bring an antitrust case against Google. However as a practical matter it makes the likelihood that much greater, indicating the FTC is quite serious and potentially preparing a cas [...]

TripAdvisor the Latest Google Critic To File EU Antitrust Claim

trip-advisor-logo Following on the heels of Expedia filing an antitrust claim against Google in Europe, fellow member TripAdvisor has also filed a complaint against Google with the EU. My sense is that this is part of a coordinated effort to put more pressure on the EU to bring formal antitrust charges against the company. EU antitrust commissioner Joaquín Almunia has said that a decision about whether to formally charge Google will come after the Easter holiday in Europe. If I’m correct and there’s some coordination behind the scenes going on, we can expect more companies to take simi [...]

Expedia Adds Complaint To Anti-Google Chorus In Europe

expedia-logo On Friday Travel site Expedia filed an antitrust complaint against Google with the EU. That brings the number of formal anti-competition complaints in Europe to 12. According to a widely quoted statement from Expedia the complaint 'offers evidence of how Google's conduct harms not only competition, but consumers." The specific "evidence" was not made public. EU antitrust commissioner Joaquín Almunia has said that a decision about whether to formally charge Google will come after the Easter holiday in Europe. The focus of many of the EU complaints has been the argument that Google unfairly [...]

Samsung Faces Potential EU Antitrust Wrath For Failure To License Mobile Patents

A new wrinkle was just added to the ever expanding Apple-Samsung IP litigation drama. The European Commission has opened a formal investigation to determine whether the Korean firm breached EU antitrust rules. Did Samsung break its promise to Europe? At issue is whether "Samsung Electronics has abusively, and in contravention of a commitment it gave to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), used certain of its standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European mobile device markets . . ." In 1998 Samsung made a commitment to European regulators to licens [...]

US Consumer Group Wants EU To Block G-Moto Deal, Calls For Google Breakup

European EU flag US-based Consumer Watchdog is calling on the European Commission (EC) to block Google's $12.5 billion takeover of Motorola Mobility and wants Europe to pursue a formal antitrust complaint against Google. Citing marketshare data, the group's argument is that owning a handset maker would turn Google into an "unstoppable juggernaut" in mobile: Google’s Android smartphone operating system dominates the mobile market with a 38 percent share and is growing. Apple’s iPhone has 27 percent.  Google controls 95 percent of the mobile search market.  There is evidence it is pressuring handset manuf [...]

Google Outspends Microsoft In DC Lobbying In 2011

dollar-bill-congress-featured According to a report in CNET, based on public filings with the US Senate Office of Public Records, Google spending on federal lobbying exceeded that of rival Microsoft in 2011. Google reportedly spent $9.7 million to Microsoft's $7.3 million in 2011. Some decry the increase in Google lobbying as hypocrisy because lobbying is inherently "evil" and Google pledged to "do no evil." In the scheme of things Google's $9.7 is still relatively modest. The top lobbying spender in 2011 was the truly evil US Chamber of Commerce at $46 million. Google isn't in the top 20. Here's the top 20 lobbying [...]

Q1 Now The Deadline For Decision On EU Antitrust Complaint Against Google

According to Reuters European regulators are going to decide by the end of Q1 2012 (March) about the filing of a formal antitrust case against Google. Apparently this timing is much sooner than expected. The European investigation began a little more than a year ago in November 2010. The European Commission investigation arose out of formal anti-competition complaints filed by three companies: Foundem, eJustice and Ciao (owned by Microsoft). Since that time other companies have separately filed formal complaints, including Microsoft, bringing to total number to roughly 10 filings. In th [...]

Privacy Watchdog EPIC Asks Federal Trade Commission To Investigate Google

Google FTC logos The Electronic Privacy Information Center has urged the FTC to investigate Google's recent integration of search results with personal data, such as photos, posts, and contact details, gathered from Google+ in Google Search results. These changes, Google Plus Your World, "raise concerns related to both competition and the implementation of the Commission’s consent order," EPIC said in a press release. Google faces both criticism and governmental inquires regarding "competition" issues (aka anti-trust concerns). At Search Engine Land, we've covered many of them, including Bing’s Travel [...]

Privacy Watchdog: FTC Needs To Look At Google’s “Search, Plus Your World” The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) may file a request asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate antitrust and privacy concerns surrounding Google's latest update to its search results. As the LA Times reports, EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg says his group will probably file a complaint with the FTC. "We believe this is something that the FTC needs to look at," Rotenberg tells the Times. "Google is an entrenched player trying to fight off its challenger Facebook by using its market dominance in a separate sector. I think that should trouble people." Go [...]

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