FTC Stories May 22

Update: Qualcomm unsurprisingly disagrees with the judgement and will be appealing the ruling to the US Court of Appeals 9th Circuit. Original story below.

Judge Koh has filed her ruling on the FTC antitrust suit against Qualcomm, and it comprehensively concludes that Qualcomm business practices were anticompetitive as reported by FOSSPatents.

Qualcomm has been ordered to renegotiate existing licensing terms such that its supply of modem chips is wholly separate to any patent licensing agreement. It cannot enter exclusivity supply agreements and it must license standards-essential patents at fair and reasonable rates.

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FTC Stories February 14

Facebook’s constant string of privacy scandals is finally catching up to it. The Washington Post reports today that Facebook is negotiating a record breaking, multi-billion dollar settlement with the FTC.

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FTC Stories June 28, 2016

SKT-TPS-2

Reuters reports that South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating Apple for possible anti-competitive practices in the country. This appears to support an earlier unconfirmed report in Korea Times that FTC was examining the legality of Apple’s contract terms with mobile carriers.

Sources said Apple Korea has pressed carriers into buying a minimum volume of promotional iPhones and sharing the burden of repair costs […]

In April, the FTC ordered the rectification of 20 unfair provisions in contracts with its certified repair service partners. The contracts included stipulations that the repair firms could not file lawsuits against Apple Korea within a year after any dispute.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it echoes an earlier case in France …

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FTC Stories July 29, 2015

AT&T doesn’t want to be throttled for throttling customers

It seems AT&T thinks throttling the data speeds of customers without telling them about it isn’t such a big deal. The Federal Trade Commission sued AT&T back in 2014 for “deceptive and unfair data throttling” after the company imposed caps on unlimited data contracts, beyond which it reduced their data speeds by almost 90%. The Federal Communications Commission joined the party last month, fining AT&T $100 million – and The Hill reports that the carrier now wants that fine reduced to just $16,000.

The Commission’s findings that consumers and competition were harmed are devoid of factual support and wholly implausible,” the company wrote in its filing. “Its ‘moderate’ forfeiture penalty of $100 million is plucked out of thin air, and the injunctive sanctions it proposes are beyond the Commission’s authority.”

The FTC had stated that it could legally have imposed fines of $16,000 per affected consumer, but that would have resulted in an “astronomic” fine, so chose to limit the total penalty to one large enough to deter future violations. AT&T had originally claimed that it was doing nothing wrong, but Ars Technica notes that the company amended its policy in May so that throttling was applied only when the network was congested.

AT&T has not offered unlimited data plans to new customers for some years, but has a small-ish group of customers who remain on grandfathered plans which remain valid for as long as the customer retains the plan.

Apple last month removed subsidies from both AT&T and Verizon iPhones, moving to plans where customers pay the full cost of the phone on an installment plan.

Photo: Re/code

FTC Stories July 22, 2015

apple music.00_00_11_24.Still011

Apple is once again coming under fire for business practices and deals around Apple Music, the subscription music and video streaming service it launched last month. Consumer Watchdog, a prominent consumer advocacy group, issued a letter to the United States Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice today, asking the government to put restrictions on Apple’s “plans to dominate the subscription music sector” while citing “serious antitrust concerns” based on information it received. expand full story

FTC Stories July 11, 2015

Freedom?

Freedom?

The US antitrust regulators are reportedly looking into Apple’s subscription service rules for the App Store are anticompetitive and illegal under US law, according to Reuters. The main issue of contention is that the standard streaming music price of $9.99 per month is not attainable for Apple Music competitors as App Store rules enforce a 30% cut of all revenues made from within apps.

This means that streaming companies either have to take on significant profit cuts to stay at the $9.99 mark or charge more in the App Store to account for the 30% margin. The argument is that consumers will not want to pay $12.99 (approximately $9.99 with a 30% increase) per month for a streaming music service when they can readily buy Apple Music for $9.99.

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