EU Leans Toward “Labeling” To Resolve Antitrust Claims Against Google

google-eu-featured Those hoping for aggressive regulation or changes in the way Google conducts its search business in Europe will likely be disappointed. A new interview with EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia hints at settlement proposals and remedies now being considered in the Google antitrust case. And, they will probably look a lot like what came out of the FTC earlier this year. The interview, published in a New York Times article triggered by the filing of a new antitrust complaint over Android, offers some insights into the state of settlement negotiations between Europe and Google. The [...]


Google’s Mapping Contest In India Creates Uproar

india-flag-map Google has run up against some of India's restrictive laws in the past, most notably in the context of vague and expansive censorship rules for content and search results. A new episode involves a crowdsourced mapping contest run by the company to obtain data for Google Maps. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Google ran a "Mapathon" contest in February and March offering prizes in exchange for information about local places, facilities and businesses: The Internet company invited amateur mappers as well as mapping enthusiasts to add local information through its Google Map Make [...]


Google Says No To FBI’s National Security Letter, At Least This Time

fbi Bloomberg News reports Google has filed a petition against a government request for information after receiving a "National Security Letter." The details of the requested information are currently not disclosed, as you would imagine. Bloomberg says it is rare for a company to fight back after receiving such a request from a government agency. Reportedly the push back from Google comes three weeks after San Francisco federal judge ruled that National Security Letters, which are issued without a warrant, are unconstitutional. Again, there are no details on the specific government demand bu [...]


Google Gets Trademark Reprieve In Sweden Over Definition Of ‘Ungoogleable’

google-g-logo "Ungoogleable" won't become an official word in Sweden ... at least, not this year. As Sveriges Radio reports (found via The Verge), the Language Council of Sweden won't be adding ogooglebar, which translates to "ungoogleable," to its official list of new words for 2012. The Council's planned definition for the word, based on common use there, was something "that can not be found on the Web using a search engine." But Google asked for an edit; it wanted the word to only refer to something that can't be found using Google. Rather than change its definition, the Council decided to drop [...]


Google Streamlines AdWords Rules On Using Trademark Keywords

Google has announced an update to its AdWords trademark policy that streamlines the rules on using third-party trademark keywords in campaigns. With the update, Google now has a consistent global policy that allows advertisers to bid on competitor third-party trademark keywords. The update states: "Starting on 23 April 2013, keywords that were restricted as a result of a trademark investigation will no longer be restricted in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Brazil. While we will not prevent the use of trademarks as keywords in the affected regions, [...]


Open Letter To EU Competition Commissioner Exerts Pressure For Tougher “Vertical Search” Settlement With Google

google-eu-featured Late last week, a group of Google critics, rivals and complainants sent an "open letter" to EU competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia asking him to focus on the "vertical search" or "search neutrality" dimensions of the Google antitrust case. The letter says, essentially, that of the "four areas of concern" raised by the EU over Google's business practices, this is the only issue that really matters. The letter asserts that the EU must address "Google’s search manipulation practices" in the form of "the systematic promotion of Google’s own services, and the systematic demotion [...]


It’s Official: Google Settles “WiSpy” Case For $7 Million

google-wifi-streetview As reported last week, Google has formally settled the so-called "WiSpy" case with 30 US state Attorneys General for $7 million. The agreement also contains some other non-monetary provisions that are, frankly, more meaningful. The investigation began in 2010 concerning unauthorized collection of private emails and other "payload" data by Google Street View vehicles. The US Federal Communications Commission concluded its own investigation of the affair with no finding of liability against Google. As mentioned, the $7 million settlement is insignificant for Google. However, the press rel [...]


Google Wins Lawsuit Over Monetizing Your Name With Ads

[caption id="attachment_65488" align="alignright" width="300"] Image courtesy Shutterstock.com[/caption] Google has won a lawsuit filed by Wisconsin woman, Beverly Stayart, over Google Instant suggestions leading to a search result set that had ads. Beverly Stayart claimed Google suggested a search query phrase for the term [Bev Stayart levitra]. When you landed on that page of search results, Google would show search ads for Levitra and other treatments for erectile dysfunction. Beverly Stayart sued Google for using her name to make money without her approval. The U.S. Seventh Circui [...]


Report: Google To Settle “WiSpy” Investigation With Attorneys General For Measly $7 Million

Google Street View Pegman Icon According to AllThingsD, Google is about to settle the so-called "WiSpy" investigation with 30 US state Attorneys Generals. Google will admit no wrongdoing and pay $7 million according to the report. The article says the settlement will be announced next week. In early 2012, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concluded its own WiSpy investigation with no finding of liability against Google, but fined the company $25,000 for not cooperating with its investigation -- a claim that Google aggressively disputed. The WiSpy scandal was global in scope. If you've forgotten, it i [...]


Google Maps Might Be Banned In Germany Over Patent Infringement

Google Maps icon Google Maps may be banned in Germany as the result of a patent infringement lawsuit underway at a regional court in Germany. As FOSS Patents reports, Judge Matthias Zigann told Google today that he's inclined to hold the company liable for infringing a Microsoft patent that describes a "computer system for identifying local resources and method therefor." The judge reportedly called the patent, which describes how map data and local search results can be combined, a "big idea." Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents explains the possible ramifications if the judge sides with Microsoft, as expec [...]


Google Avoids Link Tax But Ambiguous New “Ancillary Copyright” Law Sets Up Legal Battle To Come

Google Germany In August of last year, a number of German lawmakers were pressing proposed "ancillary copyright" legislation that would have required Google and others that indexed or aggregated news to pay for links or excerpts from those news items. The proposed law was championed by German magazine and newspaper publishers who, like their counterparts in the US, are seeing declining readership and ad sales. The law did pass in the German parliament, but Bloomberg reports that a compromise reached earlier this week stayed in. That compromise will allow Google (and others) "to display 'single word [...]


New German Law Will Allow Free “Snippets” By Search Engines, But Uncertainty Remains

Google Germany The good news for search engines like Google is a proposed German copyright law won't require them to pay to show short summaries of news content. However, uncertainty remains about how much might be "too much" and require a license. The new law is expected to pass on Friday. NOTE: See our follow-up story from today: Google Avoids Link Tax But Ambiguous New “Ancillary Copyright” Law Sets Up Legal Battle To Come Der Spiegel explains more about the change: "Google will still be permitted to use "snippets" of content from publisher's web sites in its search results.... "What the ne [...]


In Another “Right to Be Forgotten” Case, UK Officials Threaten Legal Action Against People Posting Pictures Of Convicted Killer

Online security, privacy Although slightly different than the Spanish case discussed yesterday, the "right to be forgotten" has reared its head again -- this time in the UK." UK Attorney General Dominic Grieve has threatened legal action against anyone posting pictures of convicted killer Jon Venables online. TechDirt offers a short summary of the underlying facts of the Vendables case: Jon Venables, [ ] at the age of 10, murdered 2-year old James Bulger, in a rather horrifying story. Venables was released from jail in 2001, at the age of 19 (though he has since gone back to prison). Photos of Venables, now 30 yea [...]


Privacy Vs Censorship: Google, Spanish Government Face Off In European Courts

google-eu-featured In a test case that could have significant implications for Google throughout Europe the company faced off against the Spanish data protection authority in the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg. One could frame the case as "privacy vs. censorship." From the Spanish government's point of view its data protection authority is simply vindicating the recently articulated right (of individuals) "to be forgotten" -- to have content or data about them removed from the search index upon request. From Google's perspective, if the court agrees with Spain, the outcome would be tanta [...]


Europeans Taking Sweet Time In Resolving Antitrust Case With Google

google-eu-featured Google's antitrust case in the US concluded in January, much to the dismay of companies that had been agitating for tough action by the FTC. It was seen as a near total victory for Google. Rivals quickly turned their attention to Europe in the hope that, unencumbered by some of the legal issues that inhibited US regulators, it would be willing to impose "meaningful" restraints on Google. There were some signals from EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia that Europe was going to take a firm stand on the vertical search or "search bias" issue. Google's alleged "search bias" towar [...]


Wisconsin State Court OKs Bidding On Trademarks In Paid Search

[caption id="attachment_65488" align="alignright" width="240"] Image courtesy Shutterstock.com.[/caption] A Wisconsin appeals court this week affirmed a circuit court's ruling that it's OK to use trademarks as keywords to trigger the display of paid search ads. The court's conclusions are in line with search engines' policies with regard to trademark bidding and with a Federal case decided last year in California. The Wisconsin case, which involved two personal injury law firms, centered around what it means to "use" a name for advertising purposes. In the 2009 lawsuit, the owners of [...]


Australia’s Highest Court Relieves Google Of Liability For “Deceptive” Search Ads

google-australia-200px Yesterday, Australia's highest judicial body, called The High Court of Australia, overturned a lower court decision that held Google responsible for paid-search ads deemed deceptive by  Australia's antitrust regulator, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC). According to Bloomberg, roughly six years ago the ACCC sued Google claiming that certain travel-related ads appearing in search results were misleading or deceptive. The Commission sought to hold Google responsible for the content of those ads, relying on a pre-Internet decision finding a TV broadcaster responsible [...]


Google Settles With France: No ‘Link Tax,’ But €60 Million Media Fund

google-france-french-featured Google has avoided getting hit with a "link tax" in France by agreeing to create a €60 million "Digital Publishing Innovation Fund" to essentially help French media adapt to the online age. The settlement, announced today in France by President Francois Hollande and Google's Eric Schmidt -- and announced on Google's blog -- ends several months of debate over France's plan to charge Google for linking to French news content. When the French law was first proposed, Google threatened to just stop linking to French newspaper websites, saying that the country's publishers would miss out on [...]


Google Submits Formal European Antitrust Settlement Proposal

google-eu-featured Yesterday, right under the deadline, Google delivered its proposal to the European Commission (EC) in an effort to settle potential antitrust claims against the company and head off a formal enforcement action. The proposal was required to concretely address four "areas of concern" identified by the EC. Briefly, those involve "search bias" and "diversion of traffic," improper use of third party content and reviews by Google, third party publisher exclusivity agreements and portability of ad campaigns to other search platforms. Google essentially addressed three of the four areas in its sett [...]


Microsoft Sued By Company That Won Patent Lawsuit Against Google In 2012

bing-legal-law-featured [caption id="attachment_65488" align="alignright" width="240"] Image courtesy Shutterstock.com[/caption] New York-based Vringo has sued Microsoft over two patents that pertain to the ranking and placement of ads in search results. The patents were originally issued in the early '90s and owned for a long time by Lycos, which later sold them. The patents in question are 6,314,420 and 6,775,664, referred to in the complaint (below) as the "420" and "664" patents. They wound up at Vringo, a company that sells video ringtones for mobile phones. The company's real business however is pat [...]


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