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New Year round-up: business news from the last 3 weeks

News highlights that you may have missed:07 Jan 2008

US regulator the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that Google's acquisition of online advertising company DoubleClick could go ahead, despite some people's concerns about its effect on competition in the online advertising market.

The deal still has to be passed by the European Commission, which is conducting its own competition enquiry into the deal.

"The FTC's strong support sends a clear message: this acquisition poses no risk to competition and will benefit consumers," said Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive, in a statement.  "We hope that the European Commission will soon reach the same conclusion, and we are confident that this deal will deliver more relevant ads for consumers, more choices for advertisers, and more opportunities for website publishers."

The European Commission announced in November that it would conduct a full competition investigation into the deal. "[The Commission] will investigate whether the merger, which combines the leading providers of respectively, on the one hand, online advertising space and intermediation services, and, on the other hand, ad serving technology, could lead to anti-competitive restrictions for competitors operating in these markets and thus harm consumers," said a Commission statement at the time. The Commission's verdict is due by 2 April.

Read more on this story at PC Mag's site.


The High Court ruled in a long running patent dispute that it would be impossible to build a third generation (3G) mobile phone according to the industry's set standards without infringing on a patent held by Interdigital.

Nokia had attempted to show that it was possible to build a standards compliant phone without infringing on one of 31 patents held by Interdigital but the court ruled that one patent was essential for the standards.

Read more on this story at The Register.


A lawsuit against lawyer-rating site Avvo.com has been thrown out of court. The site rates US lawyers with a score out of 10. We covered the issues in a September episode of OUT-LAW Radio, Rate-a-lawyer site under attack.

In December, a judge said that Avvo's ratings, even if generated through automated algorithms, are opinions, not facts, and thus qualify for First Amendment protection, writes Eric Goldman.


Telecoms regulator Ofcom said it is investigating ways to address the problem of ISPs advertising speeds for internet connections which consumers do not actually receive.

Chief executive Ed Richards said the body was considering options such as forcing ISPs to provide individual customers with speed estimates specific to their home.

More on this at Silicon.com.


An estimated 3.6 million US adults lost money to phishing scams in 2007, according to figures produced by analysts at Gartner. It said that only 2.3 million had been successfully scammed in 2006.

The company's survey found that $3.2 billion was lost during the year in the attacks, in which scammers pretend to be from legitimate businesses such as banks or eBay in order to gain control of people's bank accounts or cards.

More at Forbes.com.


The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has issued guidance to prosecutors on how to interpret changes to the UK's main cybercrime law that are expected to come into force this year.

The Computer Misuse Act was passed in 1990. Changes to the Act are included in the Police and Justice Act 2006, though the amendments are not yet in force. They provoked controversy because of the affect they might have had on hacking researchers, but experts say that the CPS advice gives researchers some reassurance.


A Hampshire publican lost her appeal against a Crown Court conviction for showing English football via a Greek satellite channel, thus avoiding paying Sky Television for coverage.

Parts of the case were reserved for referral to European courts over EU competition law, but the judges ruled that the woman was aware that Sky had the right to charge for broadcasts in the EU, and that she had intended to avoid making that payment. More at ThePublican.com.