The Washington Post

The Circuit: AT&T makes small gains in hearing, Google's Schmidt defends practices, Facebook preps for announcements

LEADING THE DAY: AT&T scored some small wins as it appeared before Judge Ellen Huvelle on Wednesday in the first hearing of the Justice Department’s suit to block its $39 billion merger with T-Mobile, The Washington Post reported.

Huvelle declined to allow rival Sprint Nextel to join its suit with the Justice Department’s and set a Feb. 13 trial date. The date is earlier than the department had requested. AT&T has expressed interest in a settlement, but people familiar with Justice’s thinking have said government officials are open to compromise, though they are fully prepared to litigate.

Google’s Schmidt defends business: Google Chairman Eric Schmidt testified before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust Wednesday and defended the company’s business practices, The Washington Post reported.

Schmidt said the company was not a monopolist and that its business is focused on serving customers. He even said that Google does not always act like a “rational” business that tries to maximize profits. He also touted the company’s role as an innovator and provider of jobs.

But Google’s competitors also had a voice in Wednesday’s hearing, saying that the company’s growth is squeezing out other businesses. After Schmidt testified, some Google competitors testified that they would not have launched their companies today given Google’s dominance on the Internet. “I would find something else to do,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and chief executive of the user review Web site Yelp.

Facebook: Facebook is prepping for its developers conference, f8, as more details surrounding its anticipated music service leak. Facebook’s creative director Ji Lee sent out — and then deleted — a Twitter message praising the “Listen with your friend” feature on the site, TechCrunch reported.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will kick off the developers conference with a keynote speech at 1 p.m., Eastern time. In addition to Facebook’s music service, he’s also expected to announce a news reading feature and video sharing feature that will be integrated into the network as a result of partnerships with media organizations.

HP said to be mulling CEO ouster: HP’s chief executive, Leo Apotheker, has been at his job for about a year, but several media reports indicate that the company may already be considering parting ways. Bloomberg reported that the company may consider hiring Meg Whitman, former head of eBay and California gubernatorial candidate, citing two unnamed people “familiar with the matter.”

The New York Times reported that HP’s board is troubled to the point of being dysfunctional due to infighting. According to the report, HP’s board hired Apotheker despite the fact that most of the board had not met him, following the ouster of former CEO Mark Hurd.

Commerce pushes for copyright enforcement: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, leading a coalition of 359 companies, will reportedly send a letter to Congress Thursday pushing for legislation to combat online infringement, The Hill reported. Comcast, Ford Motor, and Wal-Mart are among the companies said to have signed the letter.

Web sites promoting counterfeit and pirated goods are bad for American jobs and consumers, the letter reportedly says.

The Senate Judiciary committee passed the Protect IP act earlier this year, which would give lawmakers the right to blacklist and shutdown sites found violating copyright — something Internet freedom advocates say grants the government too much control over the Web, the report said. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) placed a hold on the bill in May.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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