European Mobile Anti-Trust Update

  • Despite potentially resolving their EU antitrust case on fishy search results with formal concessions to the way it present search results, Google are perhaps out of the frying pan and into the fire with the FairSearch group (which counts Microsoft and Nokia amongst others as members) formally accusing of new antitrust violations relating to their Android mobile OS. The fact that manufacturers of ‘droid handsets are forced to include Google applications such as youtube/maps can certainly be compared to the situation in the EU MS antitrust case that took most of last decade. The EU Commission’s eventual decision on the matter may affect opensource software to some extent as Android is given to phone makers for free.
  • Apple is under investigation for possible antitrust abuse rising from it’s dealings with European mobile phone carriers. Apple previously drew EU fire in 2008 when as a result of a formal complaint to the European Commission it lowered the price of iTunes store songs to UK users as they were paying more than customers living elsewhere in the European Union
  • Samsung will have to deal with antitrust ramifications in the EU sometime this year, this time not from being a member of a price fixing cartel but rather from it’s patent-trolling of Apple in the region (which it has subsequently stopped). The European Commission seems to have a very fair and balanced outlook on patent usage, as demonstrated in their press release on the subject which included this statement from the Commission Vice in charge of competition policy:

“Intellectual property rights are an important cornerstone of the single market. However, such rights should not be misused when they are essential to implement industry standards, which bring huge benefits to businesses and consumers alike. When companies have contributed their patents to an industry standard and have made a commitment to license the patents in return for fair remuneration, then the use of injunctions against willing licensees can be anti-competitive.”