The Circuit: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint at CTIA; more merger talk; Apple sues AmazonJoel Reidenberg in The Washington Post, March 22, 2011
By Hayley Tsukayama
LEADING THE DAY: All eyes in the telecommunications world will be trained on Orlando as AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets CEO Ralph de la Vega, Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse kick off CTIA’s annual conference. The panel, moderated by CNBC’s Jim Cramer, should make for interesting viewing. After all, Sprint issued a strong statement opposing the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile only two days ago. In an interview with Reuters, Verizon Wireless CEO Daniel Mead said his company is not interested in buying Sprint.
Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski will be speaking before the panel, though he’s not expected to address the merger. The panel starts at 9 a.m., EDT. In addition to merger talk, spectrum debate is expected to emerge as another hot topic of discussion at CTIA this week. Those interested can watch this morning’s panel, and all keynotes, at ctia.org.
More merger talk: House Energy and Commerce chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Communications subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) issued a statement on the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. The statement said the congressmen look forward to discussing the impact the transaction has on consumers and seeing how the FCC handles the review. “A proposed transaction of this scale also underscores the importance of an objective review process at the FCC,” the statement read. “A key question for this committee is whether the FCC is conducting thorough market analysis and how that influences the agency’s decision-making. We believe such analysis is essential to this and other transactions, and we intend to determine how Congress should reform the FCC’s process going forward.”
Apple sues Amazon: Apple has sued Amazon, The Wall Street Journal reported, for choosing to call its mobile application marketplace the “Amazon Appstore.”The complaint against Amazon was filed Friday in federal court for the Northern District of California. Apple won approval to trademark the term “App Store,” and Amazon’s careful punctuation of its marketplace name was apparently not enough to squeak by that claim. The Amazon Appstore went live today.
Microsoft has challenged Apple’s trademark to the term, saying “App Store” is a general term.
Microsoft sues over the Nook: Microsoft filed legal actions against Barnes and Noble, Foxconn and Inventec for patent infringement by the Nook e-reader. Microsoft’s real target, however, is Google’s Android platform. “The Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft’s patents, and companies manufacturing and shipping Android devices must respect our intellectual property rights,” said Microsoft’s corporate vice president and counsel Horacio Gutiérrez in a statement. Gutiérrez said that the companies that make the Nook have refused to take a license, an “industry-wide patent licensing program for Android device manufacturers.”
Google fined in France, wins legal battle in Germany:Google won a legal victory in Germany as a Berlin court ruled that company’s Street View is legal. According to Deustche Welle, the court ruled that it is legal to take photographs from street level. The court also found that as Google allowed Germans to opt-out of the service, there were no potential violations. This decision cannot be appealed further.
In France Monday, the company was fined ¤100,000, about $141,300, for improperly collecting and storing StreetView data. The company has two months to appeal the fine, the largest ever issued by France’s data protection regulator, CNIL. Fordham law professor Joel Reidenberg said this is a significant development. “By imposing one of the largest fines ever issued in France, the CNIL is also sending a signal to its counterparts in Europe that data protection authorities should step up their enforcement activities since the same activity occurred elsewhere in Europe,” he said.