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The on-going anti-trust investigation into Google has finally been completed with a 4-1 ruling that Google must stop excluding competitors from using standards essential patents owned by subsidiary Motorola. These patents are what the FTC call the "cornerstone of the interoperability standards that we have taken for granted."
Google is also making two voluntary changes to the way some of its products work:
- More choice for websites: Websites can already opt out of Google Search, and they can now remove content (for example reviews) from specialized search results pages, such as local, travel and shopping;
- More ad campaign control: Advertisers can already export their ad campaignsfrom Google AdWords. They will now be able to mix and copy ad campaign data within third-party services that use our AdWords API.
"The changes Google has agreed to make will ensure that consumers continue to reap the benefits of competition in the online marketplace and in the market for innovative wireless devices they enjoy," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "This was an incredibly thorough and careful investigation by the Commission, and the outcome is a strong and enforceable set of agreements."
Google appears to have gotten off with another slap on the wrist, just like it did back in August, 2012, when it paid out $22.5 million to settle charges of knowingly bypassing Safari's privacy settings.
Eric Schmidt is planning a trip to North Korea, a country where the internet basically doesn't exist. Eric Schmidt will be accompanied by former New Mexicon governor Bill Richardson. However, the US State Department isn't happy with the trip's timing, especially considering North Korea's long-range missile launch just a few weeks ago.
"We don't think the timing of this is particularly helpful," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
Square is taking its partnership with Starbucks to a new level. After getting Starbucks to use Square payments, Starbucks has announced today that they will be selling the Square card reader in their 7,000 locations across the United States. The card reader will set you back $10, but it comes with a $10 rebate for new users, effectively making the device the cost of tax.
The card reader is already available in Apple Stores, Best Buy, and Walmart. Starbucks has been a major funding partner for Square, something that landed Starbucks' CEO join the board of directors. If you need to get a card reader to accept credit card payments, it's even easier to pick one up now.
A Virginia court has lifted an injunction placed against a woman who left a negative review on Yelp and Angie's List of a contractor who had done some work on her home recently. The decision was pivotal because the previous decision had effectively censored Jane Perez's negative review of contractor Christopher Dietz without investigating if her claims were true or not.
The previous ruling stated that Perez had to remove wording from the review that mentioned missing jewelry, and she was to "re-characterize" the dispute between the two over non payment. An appeal by Public Citizen and the American Civil Liberties Union led to the court determining just two days later that "the preliminary injunction was not justified and that the respondents have an adequate remedy at law."
"It shouldn't be easy to take down speech that you don't like," said Paul Alan Levy, an attorney for Public Citizen. "You can't get injunction against defamation. If it's really defamation, you get damages."
It's looking like the Federal Trade Commission will, this week, rule on its antitrust investigation of Google. Sources familiar with the matter have stated that the settlement will be quite similar to the one discussed in December.
FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz is leading the charge for the vote from all five commissioners and is hoping for the gavel to fall late this week.
The push to make a quick decision is no doubt based on the decision by the senate to replace Commissioner Thomas Rosch with law professor George Mason. Rosch's last day on the commission will be Friday.
AMD has picked a new CFO. The internal and external search turned up Devinder Kumar, who will now be a senior vice president and chief financial officer, effective today. Kumar is 57 and will report to AMD CEO Rory Reed. Kumar has served as the interim CFO since September 2012 and as senior vice president since 2006.
"Devinder has been with AMD for more than 28 years and is a talented finance veteran with deep industry knowledge," said Read. "As we accelerate our strategic growth initiatives, Devinder will play an integral role driving the new business model in the near term and strengthening AMD's long-term financial foundation."
Kumar is well equipped for the job: He holds a bachelor's degree from University of Malaya, Malaysia, a master's degree from University of California, Santa Barbara, and a master's degree in business administration from University of California, Los Angeles.
Apple sued Amazon over its use of the term "app store" to describe its online marketplace for Android apps. In a ruling today, a judge has dismissed part of the case, the part alleging that Amazon committed false advertising by using the term.
Judge Phyllis Hamilton said there was "no support for the proposition that Amazon has expressly or impliedly communicated that its Appstore for Android possesses the characteristics and qualities that the public has come to expect from the Apple App Store and/or Apple products."
Apple has also sued for trademark infringement, though Apple does not yet own the trademark to "App Store." It has applied for the trademark, though several companies have moved to block the trademark. Microsoft has said in a motion for summary judgement that "Any secondary meaning or fame Apple has in 'App Store' is de facto secondary meaning that cannot convert the generic term 'app store' into a protectable trademark."
Apple argues that "The vastly predominant usage of the expression 'app store' in trade press is as a reference to Apple's extraordinarily well-known APP STORE mark and the services rendered by Apple thereunder."
Should Apple be able to own the trademark on "App Store"? A court will have to decide that at a later date. As it stands, it appears that Amazon will be allowed to continue using the term app store to describe its online marketplace for Android apps.
Polaroid will be opening up 10 retails stores in 2013 that will be called FotoBars. These locations will allow you to edit and print pictures, applying filters if your picture isn't from Instagram. The pictures can then be printed on a variety of materials, framed if you want, and be shipped to you within a couple of days.
From the image, it looks like editing will be done on Apple computers, which are probably used to make the whole experience "hip." Material options will include wood, bamboo, metal, acrylic, and canvas. Users will also have the option to print out a normal photo. According to Polaroid, a "critical aspect of the customer experience" is the ability to see and feel examples of the materials, which sounds very Appleish.
The first location will be Delray Beach in Florida, which opens in February. Further locations will open throughout the year, including New York and Las Vegas.
Chief executive Scott W. Hardy:
Unfortunately, even the very best of those pictures rarely ever escape the camera phone with which they were taken to be put on display around our homes and offices. Why? Because turning those pictures into something tangible, creative and permanent is neither easy nor fun. Polaroid Fotobar stores are going to change all of that.
Avis has tossed its hat into the $400 million US car sharing market by purchasing Zipcar for about $500 million. Zipcar has a reported 760,000 members in 20 major US cities.
The acquisition comes at a 45% premium over Zipcar's closing price on Dec 31 2012 with the transaction set to complete in the spring of 2013. Zipcar was formed in January, 2000 as a way to bring the popular European concept of car sharing to the US
"By combining with Zipcar, we will significantly increase our growth potential, both in the United States and internationally, and will position our company to better serve a greater variety of consumer and commercial transportation needs," said Ronald L. Nelson, Avis Budget Group Chairman and CEO in a press release.
The Japanese newspaper Nikkei is reporting that Apple is planing on launching fully fledged iBookstores in Japan this year. It is unclear where the store will be open for business.
Japan has been slow to embrace E-books, but with companies like Amazon, Google and Sony retailing the format, Apple had no choice but to follow suit. Apple has reportedly signed agreements with Japanese publishers Shogakukan, Kodansha and Kadokawa.
Manga has been dominating the Japanese E-book market lately, but Apple is banking on the arrival of western book publishers to fuel its fire and help turn its newest venture into something profitable.