The Circuit: Next step for AT&T and T-Mobile? Apple wins small patent victory. Senators urge Google investigation

LEADING THE DAY: AT&T has dropped its bid for T-Mobile, The Washington Post reported Monday, throwing in the towel after nine months of fighting to seal the deal in the face of strong opposition from government regulators and others.

Opponents of the merger were concerned about its potential impact on consumers and competition in the wireless industry.

All eyes are now looking to see what may be next for both companies. Analyst Jeffrey Silva told The Post that AT&T is in this “for the long haul” and could retry the merger or work to strike another deal in the future.

Apple, HTC: The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Monday on the first definitive case of the smartphone patent wars, handing a narrow victory to Apple, The Washington Post reported. The commission ruled that HTC devices that use “data tapping” technology in a specific way will be hit with an import ban starting April 19, 2012.

In response to the ruling, Apple repeated its earlier statement about the case, saying, “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

In a statement, HTC General Counsel Grace Lei said that the company is “gratified” that the ITC upheld part of a previous decision finding no infringement on Apple patents and that it reversed a ruling on another patent. The company will remove the infringing functionality “from all of our phones soon,” Lei said.

Senators urge Google investigation: Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have urged the Federal Trade Commission to look into Google’s business practices and its impact on Internet serach and commerce. The senators held a hearing in September with Google chairman Eric Schmidt to address some of the concerns.

In a letter to the FTC, the senators said that, based on testimony from that hearing, “we believe these allegations regarding Google’s search engine practices raise important competition issues.”

Apple buying Anobit: Apple has reportedly finalized its deal with Israeli flash memory maker Anobit, Reuters reported, completing the acquisition of the company for $500 million. According to the report, the chip could double the memory volume of Apple’s iPad and MacBook devices.

The Cupertino, Calif., company is also said to be opening a research facility in Israel, the first such facility outside of the United States, the report said.

Twitter exodus: Twitter’s new leadership — returned co-founder Jack Dorsey — has been cleaning house at the microblogging company CNN Money reported. In the past few months, several Twitter employees have left the nest as Dorsey changes the guard after Evan Williams resigned as chief executive.

Twitter’s current CEO, Dick Costolo, has supported the changes, the report said. “[Costolo's] relationship with Jack is very friendly and very warm,” one source “close to both of Twitter's co-founders” told the news site. “The relationship with Ev probably tends towards the functional/cordial side.”

SOPA, PIPA and OPEN: Debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act will continue Wednesday, coming after a Saturday vote for cloture on its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that he wants to proceed with a vote on PIPA when the Senate returns from its recess.

Sen. Greg Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act in the Senate on Saturday. OPEN is a bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation that Wyden has worked on with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) as an alternative to SOPA and PIPA.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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