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

China: We have 'substantial' info on Qualcomm price fixing

Qualcomm might soon find itself in some legal hot water in China.

Xu Kunlin, head of the National Development and Reform Commission in China, revealed to reporters Wednesday that his agency has "substantial evidence" chipmaker Qualcomm could be engaging in price fixing, according to a report Thursday from China Daily. The report did not reveal any details about the evidence the NDRC has against Qualcomm.

Qualcomm confirmed last month that the Chinese government had launched an investigation into its business, but said it was not aware of any violations. The company promised to cooperate with investigators.

If Qualcomm … Read more

Senate panel launches inquiry in Bitcoin, other virtual currencies

Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are getting hit from all sides by U.S. regulators. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security is the newest group to look into the practices of upstart virtual currencies.

The committee sent inquiry letters to all major financial regulators and law enforcement agencies on Monday, according to The New York Times. The letters asked the regulators and agencies about the "threats and risks related to virtual currency."

One of the people involved in the committee's investigation told The New York Times, "This is something that is clearly not going away and … Read more

Feds target former high-ranking general in Stuxnet leak probe

Federal investigators reportedly suspect a former high-ranking Pentagon figure of leaking classified information about Stuxnet, a computer virus that the U.S. is widely believed to have used to cripple a nuclear enrichment facility in Iran in 2010.

Retired U.S. Marine Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been informed that he is under investigation as the source of leaks to the media regarding the sophisticated virus, according to an NBC News report that cited "legal sources." Reportedly created by the U.S. and Israel, the highly … Read more

Apple dodged paying billions in taxes, subcommittee says

On the eve of Apple CEO Tim Cook's hearing in front of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, the subcommittee released a report Monday detailing how it believes the tech giant has avoided paying its fair share of U.S. taxes.

"Apple is an American success story," the report reads. "Today, Apple Inc. maintains more than $102 billion in offshore cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities (cash). Apple executives told the Subcommittee that the company has no intention of returning those funds to the United States unless and until there is a more favorable environment, … Read more

Samsung probed for allegedly bashing rival HTC online

The Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission has reportedly launched an investigation into Samsung on allegations that the phone-maker was paying students to post negative online comments about HTC devices, according to AFP. HTC is one of Samsung's most staunch rivals.

Supposedly, the South Korean tech giant hired students to both write the inflammatory comments about HTC products and also recommend Samsung cell phones. The commission says that this type of behavior is akin to false advertising. According to AFP, the Fair Trade Commission spokesman Sun Lih-chyun said, "The case was set up last week after we received complaints." … Read more

Cops: U.S. law should require logs of your text messages

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and other wireless providers would be required to capture and store Americans' confidential text messages, according to a proposal that will be presented to a congressional panel today.

The law enforcement proposal would require wireless providers to record and store customers' SMS messages -- a controversial idea akin to requiring them to surreptitiously record audio of their customers' phone calls -- in case police decide to obtain them at some point in the future.

"Billions of texts are sent every day, and some surely contain key evidence about criminal activity," Richard LittlehaleRead more

HP's Autonomy acquisition probed by U.K. regulators

Hewlett-Packard has a way of quietly announcing its dealings with Autonomy in its annual and quarterly regulatory filings.

In its quarterly report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today, the company announced that the U.K. Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into the alleged irregularities of HP's acquisition of Autonomy.

Here's what HP wrote in its filing:

As a result of the findings of an ongoing investigation, HP has provided information to the U.K. Serious Fraud Office, the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC related to the accounting improprieties, disclosure failures … Read more

Amazon in antitrust crosshairs over Marketplace price rules

Amazon's in a bit of trouble in Germany.

The country's Federal Cartel Office (FCO) announced yesterday that it's launching an antitrust investigation against Amazon to determine if the e-commerce company is unfairly treating third-party merchants that sell their products through its Marketplace platform.

According to BBC, which spoke with FCO chief Andreas Mundt, the organization is specifically trying to determine whether a clause that Amazon places on merchants limiting them from offering a product they sell through Marketplace at a cheaper price on competing sites, violates the country's antitrust clauses.

"This is particularly the case … Read more

Nasdaq said to be settling with SEC over Facebook's IPO flop

Dozens of lawsuits and investigations emerged after Facebook's initial public offering on the Nasdaq Stock Market last year. One investigation, initiated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, focused on technical errors in Nasdaq's system that inadvertently delayed trading that first day.

Now, word has it that Nasdaq may be able to settle the debacle with the federal regulators, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sources familiar with the matter have told the Journal that Nasdaq has been in preliminary settlement talks with the SEC. If the two sides do make a deal, it will most likely … Read more