Tim Cook met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during Berlin visit, talked privacy, security & more

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It seems Tim Cook had more on his schedule than a meeting with BILD during his visit to Berlin yesterday: the newspaper reports that he also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Cook told BILD that they discussed security, net neutrality, environmental protection and education–but the key topic appears to have been data privacy.

Cook said that he could well understand Germany’s strong stance on data privacy, stating that Germans “have the same views on privacy as I do” …  Read more

Higher European app store pricing takes effect in line with earlier email to developers

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Update: It appears subscriptions through iTunes (like magazines) that saw price increases have seen the auto-renew function disabled, a 9to5Mac reader reports, likely to avoid a higher subscription rate being charged, although users have not yet been notified of the change.

Apple has increased the prices of apps in all countries in the European Union in line with the email sent to developers a couple of days ago. Apple has made the move in response to shifts in currency exchange rates and varying tax rules.

Prices are also being increased in Norway and Russia, though Icelandic residents will see a price cut …  Read more

Apple informs developers of additional app pricing changes in the EU, Canada, and more

Apple has sent an email to developers informing them of upcoming changes to app pricing in Canada, the European Union, Norway, Iceland, and Russia. These changes, which take effect later this week, are not the same as the recent change to country-specific VAT rates, and impact a wider range of markets.

The pricing updates are being implemented to accommodate changing tax and currency exchange rates. Prices will go up for customers in all of the affected countries except Iceland, which will see a decrease. Russia’s prices will “change,” according to the email, but there aren’t any additional details on what that may mean.

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60 percent of apps fail basic privacy tests, finds international cross-governmental study

 

app store hero flat modernA review of 1,211 apps carried out by a coalition of privacy officials across 19 countries found that 60 percent of them failed at least one basic privacy test, reports the WSJ.

The officials found that 60% of apps raised privacy concerns, based on three criteria: They did not disclose how they used personal information; they required that the user give up an excessive amount of personal data as a condition of downloading the app; and their privacy policies were rendered in type too small to be read on a phone’s screen …

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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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All Apple websites could be blocked in Belgium over AppleCare controversy

Image: belgium-iphone.lesoir.be

Belgian Apple Store concept image: belgium-iphone.lesoir.be

A Belgian judge is reportedly considering ordering local ISPs to block access to all Apple websites in the country in response to a long-running dispute over the company’s promotion of AppleCare warranties, according to local newspapers cited by Tech.eu.

A case brought by the consumer protection group FPS Economy argued that Apple misleads consumers by claiming a standard warranty of one year, and selling an optional AppleCare extension, when EU law means that manufacturers are legally obliged to offer a minimum warranty of two years as standard …  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 threatened with closure of Italian operations over AppleCare antitrust investigation

We have kept you updated on Apple’s warranty situation in Italy with the company forced to pay a $1.2 million fine imposed by Italian antitrust authorities after losing an appeal to the fine in March. Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato claimed Apple mislead consumers by selling its one-year AppleCare warranties without properly informing its customers of a two-year warranty mandatory by European Union law. Today, Reuters reported Apple is facing further fines and “temporary closure of its operations in Italy” if it doe not make changes to its warranty policies:

Apple Inc was threatened with the temporary closure of its operations in Italy and with further fines of up to 300,000 euros ($377,500) if it does not offer customers a free two-year warranty as demanded by Italian law… The AGCM said in its monthly bulletin that Apple was continuing to adopt unfair commercial practices in Italy and noted this could eventually lead to the closure of its Italian operations for up to 30 days.

In March, reports claimed that authorities from up to 10 other countries in the EU were considering requesting Apple make similar changes to AppleCare.

Update: Apple commented on the matter:

“We have introduced a number of measures to address the Italian competition authority concerns and we disagree with their latest complaint.”

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Tim Cook, Samsung CEO to begin to hash out patent settlement on May 21

Earlier this month, we reported Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Samsung’s CEO Gee-Sung Choi agreed to an Alternative Dispute Resolution with Judge Lucy Koh in a California district court. The agreement, described as “semi voluntary” by media covering the case, would see the two chief’s and their legal counsels meet within 90 days for court-moderated, patent-related settlement talks. According to a new report from Foss Patents, Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, who is overseeing the settlement talks, has now scheduled the meeting for May 21-22:

The meetings will take place in a San Francisco courthouse, while the litigation itself is before the San Jose division of the court… one of the things Magistrate Judge Spero wants the parties to do is to provide a settlement statement until May 9 including, among other things, “a candid evaluation of the parties’ likelihood of prevailing on the claims and defenses”

Not surprisingly, the mediation and statements submitted by both companies throughout the process will apparently remain confidential. In the report, while noting pending disputes between the two companies exist in as many as 10 countries, Foss Patents broke down how the court’s decisions could impact up to 31 countries:
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Apple explains stance on e-book price fixing and the ‘Kindle threat’ in court documents

Yesterday, reports from The Wall Street Journal claimed the United States Justice Department was planning to launch an antitrust case against Apple and the country’s five largest book publishers related to claims of e-book price fixing. The European Commission announced in December that it would begin investigating whether Apple and book publishers “engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition.” Many believe the probes are a direct result of Steve Jobs’ comments documented in Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography where the late CEO said: “Amazon screwed it up.”

“We told the publishers, ‘We’ll go to the agency model, where you set the price, and we get our 30 percent, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want anyway… They went to Amazon and said, ‘You’re going to sign an agency contract or we’re not going to give you the books.’ “

Today, new court documents from a request by Apple to throw out a class action case over e-book price fixing revealed Apple’s stance on the issue. PaidContent explained: “Apple argues that its business plan was to sell as many e-books as possible and that it had no incentive to raise prices.” Meanwhile, Apple argued: “Why would Apple offer Amazon’s Kindle app on the iPad.” The company’s comments sidestepped all claims about Apple allegedly conspiring to slow Amazon’s entrance into the tablet market with Kindle Fire:

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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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Apple unveils micro USB adapter for iPhones in Europe

It’s been long time coming and it’s finally here. The U.K. online Apple Store now lists the Apple iPhone Micro USB Adapter, available for £8.00 and shipping October 14. From Apple:

The Apple iPhone Micro USB Adapter allows you to use third-party micro USB cables and chargers to sync or charge your iPhone. Simply connect your iPhone to the Micro USB Adapter, then connect a micro USB cable or charger to the Micro USB Adapter

Standards bodies in Europe had agreed last year that all mobile phones sold in Europe should drop proprietary connectors in favor of standard USB jacks. Apple’s been ignoring the initiative up to the point when some watchers questioned whether the European Union should fine the Cupertino, California-based gadget maker.

As it turns out, Apple has elegantly addressed those concerns with this dongle. What it does for Apple is it lets them follow the letter of the law without redesigning the iPhone or, worse, risk incompatibility problems with a billion dollar ecosystem of accessories that take advantage of Apple’s 30-pin dock connector.

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