Remember that pesky anti-trust suit that Apple faced over fixing eBook prices with publishers? Well if not, let me remind you. When Apple brought their eBook store to iOS they knew they were facing an uphill battle against Amazon. To counter this they worked out a deal with several publishers to fix prices at a certain level and also to guarantee that they got the best prices along with a few exclusive books. They were found guilty of this and are supposed to be making amends for it along with having a watchdog looking over their shoulders.
The business world in the US is a funny thing especially when it comes to legal matters. There is an unwritten rule that seems to be in use when companies break the law. This rule is all about making sure not to hurt the business regardless of the damage a company does to consumers or anything else really. We are seeing a great example of this with the Apple eBook price fixing trial. Although Apple was found to have conspired to fix prices at a much higher point that the market standard (by forcing an agency model) they still feel they should not have any consequences for this action.
As expected US District Judge Denise Cote found that Apple did collude with five publishers to fix eBook prices in 2010. Although it appeared to come as a shock to some it was something that many analysts saw as inevitable. Apple faced a mountain of evidence that showed Apple acting to push the new “agency” model and then establish price guides for new books. These caps on eBook prices (along with the most favored nation clause) are what allowed Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster to move away from the $9.99 that Amazon was setting to $12.99 and $14.99.
During the Samsung V Apple patent trail we briefly covered some of the requirements that Apple has if you want to sell their products. These requirements include a minimum purchase order, marketing material, special cabinets and displays for Apple products and more. These tactics make it seem almost impossible that anyone would be confused about what they were buying (unless the sales person was not honest). Our coverage was more about the ridiculous claim that Samsung and other Android tablets were creating marketing confusion, but we also talked a little about how these marketing requirements were a little anti-competitive.
Apple has become very brave in the light of their apparent victory over Samsung in Judge Lucy Koh’s court room. Despite potential issues with the verdict including evidence that the jury ignored the explicit instructions that were directly read to them by Judge Koh and written in several places, Apple is riding on a wave of euphoria that has caused them to expand their attack against Samsung. This was not overlay surprising as Apple is confident that the US population is ignorant of the concept of Prior Art, the differences between being inspired by a design and copying as well as some of the basic concepts behind software development (and that nagging little detail that prevents you from copyrighting a UI).
Not that long ago we told you that the MegaUpload case would be one that would have massive ramifications across the internet and also with regards to the image of the US Government and how they handle this. This image includes the current global view that the US is not run by elected officials, but by corporations especially the entertainment industry who continues to push for laws that allow them to impose their will around the globe. It is a very messy situation no matter how you look at it and as we have warned before, the US runs the risk of looking like they are not looking to uphold the law, but are acting as an extension of the Hollywood Cartels. Two days ago we learned of an excellent example of this and one that is sure to send a message to other countries and corporations that the US simply does not care about the law or fostering innovation. They are only concerned with keeping the campaign funds flowing.
There could be good news for gamers as EA (formerly known as Electronic Arts) has agreed to a settlement in the Anti-Trust case over their exclusive deal with the NFL, NCAA, and AFL. Although all of the details are not known what we do know is that EA is agreeing to end their exclusive deal with the AFL and allow their agreement with the NCAA to expire in 2014. On top of these EA will pay $27 Million in compensation to consumers that bought any of these titles and will not seek another exclusive deal for five years. What is missing here is any mention of their exclusive deal with the NFL. Why this critical piece of the puzzle is being left out we are not sure.
Microsoft is in a bit of trouble over their decision to grant users in the EU the right to choose their browser upon the installation of the Windows operating system. Now I know you are thinking that they have already been in trouble for this before, so why are we bringing it up again? Well the issue is that with the launch of Windows 7 Service Pack 1… Microsoft just stopped allowing for the browser election. Yup, any new system shipped with Windows 7 SP1 would boot up just like the good old days (for Microsoft). Well the European Union would like to talk to them about it.
A second Linux Distro has joined the Microsoft Secure Booth party. You see Microsoft has come up with what they are calling the UEFI Secure Boot. UEFI Secure boot is somewhat controversial in that once set up it will only allow signed versions of an OS to be installed. This means that if a computer is shipped from an OEM with Windows 8 and UEFI Secure Boot on you could not install a generic version of Linux or indeed any other OS including Windows 7 etc. This would effectively lock someone into using Windows 8 only on these devices. This block would include even downgrading your new system to Windows 7.
We already knew that Google was on the RADAR in the EU for possible AntiTurst issues (they were reported by both Microsoft AND Apple). The complaints seem to stem from a couple of items and while valid complaints are interesting in their timing. When the complaints were filed Google was still waiting to get the green light to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 Billion (yes with a B). Motorola was also embroiled in a patent dispute with Microsoft and Apple over a few devices (Microsoft just won a ban on imports of all Motorola devices that infringe on this patent). With Google coming in as the new owners it seems that both Apple and Microsoft wanted to put something into the EU Commission’s mind about the Google.