Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal faces probe from US states

Comcast will now have to deal with US states as well as the US Justice Department if it expects to win approval to buy Time Warner Cable.

Florida is part of a multistate group investigating the proposed merger to make sure if doesn't run afoul of antitrust laws, the Florida state attorney general's office told CNET on Wednesday.

"We are part of a multistate group reviewing the proposed transaction along with the U.S. DOJ Antitrust Division," the Florida state attorney general's office said to CNET in an e-mailed statement. "The matter is also … Read more

Privacy groups ask FTC to block Facebook-WhatsApp deal

The proposed sale of WhatsApp to Facebook will violate the privacy expectations of WhatsApp's users, two privacy groups argued Thursday in a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.

Filed by the Washington, D.C.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy, the "unfair and deceptive practices" complaint states that WhatsApp's privacy policy is incompatible with Facebook's. They request that the FTC "halt Facebook's proposed acquisition of WhatsApp" until the issues listed in the complaint are "adequately resolved."

The complaint also argues that the proposed merger … Read more

European antitrust chief defends deal with Google

Google's deal to avoid a huge antitrust fine in Europe is no "gentlemen's agreement," the European Commission's competition chief said on Friday.

Speaking at an antitrust conference, Joaquin Almunia defended the recent deal with Google in which the search giant agreed to certain conditions to settle a long-standing investigation. To avoid a potential antitrust fine as high as $5 billion, Google agreed to display search results to its own services in the same way as those for rival companies, along with other concessions.

Google's latest rapprochement may have satisfied Almunia. But other parties aren'… Read more

European antitrust case targets US movie studio contracts

The European Commission has opened an antitrust case involving licensing agreements between US film studios that can preclude European TV broadcasters in one country from showing movies in another.

The investigation involves licensing agreement provisions in contracts between Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, and Paramount Pictures on the one hand, and on the other "the largest European pay-TV broadcasters, such as BSkyB of the UK, Canal Plus of France, Sky Italia of Italy, Sky Deutschland of Germany, and DTS of Spain," the commission said Monday in a statement. At issue is whether such contracts hobble … Read more

Apple won't cooperate with antitrust probe, lawyer charges

Apple has proven itself a pain in the neck for a court-appointed monitor, at least according to a legal document filed on Monday.

In October, a US judge asked former Assistant US Attorney and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich to keep tabs on Apple following a ruling that charged the company with conspiring with other publishers to set e-book prices.

Just one month after the investigation started, Apple and Bromwich were already at odds with each other. Apple cited the attorney's fees as excessive, while Bromwich complained that his requests to meet with key Apple people were largely … Read more

Microsoft's Skype purchase survives Cisco challenge

Microsoft's takeover of Skype has gotten another official thumb's up from the courts.

In a ruling reached Wednesday, the European Union's General Court upheld the decision to grant Microsoft's $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype in 2011, Reuters has reported.

Networking giant Cisco Systems had challenged that decision, arguing that the merger as approved was anticompetitive. Cisco found fault with the European Commission for failing to get any concessions from Microsoft before approving the deal.

But the judges rejected that argument.

"Microsoft's acquisition of Skype is compatible with the internal market," the judges … Read more

Judge OKs class action wage suit against Apple, others

A federal judge has given the green light on a class action suit in California that accuses tech juggernauts of conspiring to eliminate the competition for employees by fixing wages and agreeing not to actively recruit from each other.

US District Court Judge Lucy H. Koh granted the plaintiffs' motion late Thursday night to certify the lawsuit against Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar, according to a court document. The plaintiffs, former employees of the named companies, accuse the companies of carrying out this "interconnected web" of agreements between 2005 and 2009.

"We have always … Read more

Google edges closer to antitrust deal with Europe

Google's latest efforts to avoid a heavy antitrust fine in Europe may just do the trick.

Joaquin Almunia, the European Union's competition commissioner, said Tuesday that Google has improved its commitments in the case as negotiations between the two sides ran on until Monday.

"We have reached a key moment in this case," Almunia said in a speech before the European Parliament. "Following the first market test, I had serious doubts whether it was possible to continue the route towards a commitment decision. I expressed my opinion to Google and in public. Now, with the … Read more

UK regulator seeks comment on Google's Waze acquisition

The UK Office of Fair Trade, a competition regulator, has begun seeking comments on Google's acquisition of map app maker Waze.

With the $966 million acquisition in June, Google got access to Waze technology that gathers data from drivers, such as traffic trouble spots and accidents, to help others navigate better. Google has begun integrating Waze data into Google Maps and has brought Google Maps' satellite imagery and Street View technology to the Waze app.

The Office of Fair Trade "issued an Invitation To Comment on the merger this morning," spokesman Elliott Ball said Tuesday.

With that … Read more

It was Apple's way or the highway, e-book execs say

NEW YORK -- Two publishers testified this week that their e-book deals with Apple played a key role in their decisions to change digital book terms with Amazon and other retailers, giving weight to the government's antitrust case against Apple.

David Shanks, CEO of Penguin Group USA, and Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, said the price-matching clause in their contracts with Apple would have hurt them financially had they not also moved all other e-book retailers to a model where publishers set prices. The publishers had previously sold books at a heavily discounted rate on a wholesale … Read more