European Commission approves Apple’s acquisition of Beats

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The European Commission has today approved Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music. The commission said that the buyout passes merger regulations. The commission concluded that Apple and Beats’ combined marketshare in both the streaming music and headphones markets is low, so an acquisition did not materially affect competition.

In headphones, the EU says that Apple/Beats exists in a global market with numerous other brands, including Bose, Sennheiser and Sony. For streaming music, companies like Spotify and Deezer offered a similar safety buffer. As the EU commission cares only for European operations, the fact that iTunes Radio and Beats Music do not currently operate in European countries also helped the deal go through smoothly.

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EU accuses Apple of dragging its feet on protections for ‘misleading’ IAP-driven free apps

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The European Commission has complained that Apple is taking too long to implement protections for freemium games in the App Store, reports BBC News. The Commission has decreed that both Apple and Google, the two biggest app store vendors, must make the “true cost of apps” clear before purchase. However, officials are upset that Apple has not yet committed to any such measures.

“Regrettably, no concrete and immediate solutions have been made by Apple to date to address the concerns linked in particular to payment authorisation,” the Commission said in a statement.

“Apple has proposed to address those concerns. However, no firm commitment and no timing have been provided for the implementation of such possible future changes.

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Apple vs Samsung: Apple loses bid for US ban, new trial over juror misconduct denied, Samsung drops EU sales ban requests

apple-v-samsungToday, 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

Report: EU authorities ready to accept Apple, publishers settlement in ebook price fixing investigation

According to a new report from Reuters, EU authorities are about to accept a deal with Apple and four book publishers in order to end an antitrust investigation into whether Apple conspired with publishers to prevent Amazon from undercutting Apple’s ebook pricing. The companies originally proposed the settlement in late August, and it would see Amazon go back to its original ebook pricing for two years. By making the deal, Apple and the publishers will be able to put an end to the antirust investigation and avoid related fines:

Apple, Simon & Schuster, News Corp unit HarperCollins, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Livre, and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, the owner of German company Macmillan, made the proposal to the European Commission in September…Pearson Plc’s Penguin group, which is also under investigation, did not take part in the offer.

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Apple gets a break as EU antitrust watchdog launches full-blown probe into Samsung over essential 3G patents

European Union regulators today announced the launch of a formal investigation of Samsung over mobile patents to determine whether the South Korean conglomerate breached EU antitrust rules in its legal dealings with competitors. The investigation is focused on so-called FRAND patents, a common rule that stipulates a patent applying to the standard must be adopted on “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms” (FRAND). According to the press release, EU regulators want to figure out whether Samsung “used certain of its standard essential patent rights to distort competition in European mobile device markets, in breach of EU antitrust rules.”

The Commission reminds that Samsung a decade ago promised to let rivals license its mobile patents under FRAND terms. The full-blown investigation comes in the light of the lawsuits Samsung filed against Apple at courts in Germany, France, the Netherlands and other countries around the world, asserting copyright infringement related to patents essential to wireless telecommunications standards.

The case is “a matter of priority,” the document reads. Patent blogger explained, “The European Commission can’t wait until Samsung finally wins a ruling based on such a patent and enforces it, potentially causing irreparable harm.” The full text of the European Commission Antitrust Commission announcement can be found below.

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Firefox is now the most popular browser in Europe

Here’s some interesting news from the periphery.  In Europe, where Microsoft was forced to institute a ‘browser ballot ‘upon the installation of Windows (giving Opera, Safari, Chrome, Firefox and IE equal billing), Firefox has just passed IE as the most popular browser on the continent.

That’s according to Statcounter who told Reuters “This appears to be happening because Google’s Chrome is stealing share from Internet Explorer while Firefox is mainly maintaining its existing share. We are probably seeing the impact of the agreement between European Commission competition authorities and Microsoft, to offer EU users a choice and menu of browsers from March last year.”

Given equal footing with other browsers, users just don’t pick IE (remember this ballot is only a year old and it will likely get much worse for Microsoft.

Full graph below: Read more