Bloomberg reports that the Berlin Regional Court in Germany has told Apple to change its policies for managing customer’s data on its website after ruling that Apple’s terms for data use go against German laws. According to a statement posted by a German consumer group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (VSBV), the courts have ruled that Apple cannot request “global consent” for use of a customer’s data” without informing the user of where and how the data will be used. It will also no longer be able to use German users’ data to “promote location-based services and products” or deliver the data to third-parties for advertising purposes: Read more
As if we needed someone to tell us that the ongoing patent lawsuits between Apple and Motorola in Germany were getting a little out of control… Today the European Commission has finally stepped up calling Motorola’s enforcement of an injunction against Apple with mobile standard essential patents “abuse of a dominant position prohibited by EU antitrust rules.” The EU Commission, however, does note that the statement of objections sent to Motorola does not reflect the final outcome of its investigation into its use of standard essential patents (SEPs):
The Motorola Mobility SEPs in question relate to the European Telecommunications Standardisation Institute’s (ETSI) GPRS standard, part of the GSM standard, which is a key industry standard for mobile and wireless communications. When this standard was adopted in Europe, Motorola Mobility gave a commitment that it would license the patents which it had declared essential to the standard on FRAND terms. Nevertheless, Motorola Mobility sought an injunction against Apple in Germany on the basis of a GPRS SEP and, after the injunction was granted, went on to enforce it, even when Apple had declared that it would be willing to be bound by a determination of the FRAND royalties by the German court.
The EU Commission essentially states that Apple should be able to license the technology under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms decided by a third-party, and that Motorola’s approach with its latest injunction could “distort licensing negotiations and impose unjustified licensing terms.” Back in February of 2012, Apple was for a short while forced to remove all 3G devices from its online store in Germany following the injunction, and at the time Apple noted that “Motorola repeatedly refuses to license this patent to Apple on reasonable terms, despite having declared it an industry standard patent seven years ago.” Read more
Following a controversy in which Apple removed app discovery service AppGratis from its App Store for breaking Apple’s guidelines, Reuters reports today that regulators in France are planning to ask the European Commission and EU member states for better regulation of technology companies. The statement was made by French junior minister for digital economy Fleur Pellerin on a recent trip to AppGratis publisher iMediapp. Fleur described Apple’s decision to pull AppGratis as “extremely brutal and unilateral”:
“This behaviour is not worthy of a company of this size,” Pellerin said. She added that certain Internet companies were guilty of “repeated abusive behaviour” and said she would ask the European Commission and EU member states to better regulate digital platforms, search engines and social media.
The decision comes as Apple is drawing some heat for its broad App Store guidelines that have allowed it to remove some apps that promote App Store content but not others. Apple originally said that AppGratis was removed for breaking a guideline that warns against “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store.” Apple also said AppGratis was in violation of guideline 5.6 that says “apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.
AllThingsD reported that sources have indicated Apple’s removal of AppGratis is part of a broader crackdown on app discovery applications, but a grey area still remains regarding how Apple decides which apps are approved and which are removed.
Apple told Retuers today that it had discussions with AppGratis prior to the removal and that the developers had “disregarded its technical specifications.” Read more
Apple may face an anti-trust investigation in Europe over its iPhone contracts with carriers as it defends itself against separate investigations for alleged price gouging in Australia.
Apple was informed last year that it would be required to attend a hearing by Australia’s Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications to explain why its pricing of digital content was higher in Australia than in the United States. The hearing is now underway, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, with Apple asked to explain why content sold through iTunes is marked up between 30 and 70 percent higher than in the U.S. Apple is blaming wholesale pricing agreements in the country.
“The pricing of this digital content is based on the wholesale prices which are set through negotiated contracts with the record labels, movie studios and TV networks,” said Mr King, who is Apple’s vice president for Australia, New Zealand and South Asia.
Today, we have updates on Apple and Samsung’s ongoing court woes. A report from Bloomberg noted U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in the San Jose, California case rejected Apple’s most recent request for a United States sales ban on 26 Samsung devices. According to the report, Koh said the decision was based on the fact that the “case involves lost sales—not a lost ability to be a viable market participant.”
“Samsung may have cut into Apple’s customer base somewhat, but there is no suggestion that Samsung will wipe out Apple’s customer base, or force Apple out of the business of making smartphones,” Koh said. “The present case involves lost sales — not a lost ability to be a viable market participant.”
As noted by The Verge, a second post-trial order delivered by Koh yesterday denied Samsung’s request for a new trial on the claims of jury misconduct. Koh claimed that juror Velvin Hogan disclosed his previous involvement with Seagate during the jury selection process, giving Samsung’s lawyers more than enough time to discover the litigation. From the court filing:
Samsung has waived its claim for an evidentiary hearing and a new trial based on Mr. Hogan’s alleged dishonesty during voir dire. Prior to the verdict, Samsung could have discovered Mr. Hogan’s litigation with Seagate, had Samsung acted with reasonable diligence based on information Samsung acquired through voir dire, namely that Mr. Hogan stated during voir dire that he had worked for Seagate.
Samsung vs. Apple cases abroad are also making news today: FossPatents reported today that Samsung has dropped all requests for sales bans against Apple in Europe related to standard-essential patents. However, as pointed out in the report, Samsung will still attempt to win monetary compensation in its cases against Apple, but will no longer request courts to enforce bans on Apple products. FossPatents speculated on Samsung’s decision: Read more
We reported several times about Italian anti-trust authorities fining Apple $1.2 million for “misleading consumers” in relation to AppleCare warranties. The decision made by the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato stated Apple’s 1-year AppleCare warranties were failing to inform consumers of a mandatory warranty of two years imposed by European Union law. Today we heard confirmation from Bloomberg that not just Italy, but consumer groups from 11 countries, requested that Apple make changes to its AppleCare policies and immediately halt its current “practices on the guarantees.”
Apple products say they come with a one-year warranty when European Union law requires manufacturers cover goods for two years, consumer groups in 11 countries, including Italy and Germany, said in an e-mailed statement today. The groups said they sent letters to national regulators seeking an immediate halt to Apple’s practices on the guarantees
The letter sent by consumer groups comes two days before Apple is set to appeal the $1.2 million fine imposed by Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato on March 21. Apple already published the initial anti-trust decision on its website, but the group is asking Apple to also alter its warranty policies and publish a notice to consumers about the changes it made on Apple.com.