EU antitrust regulators are investigating the video licensing coverage of the Alliance for Open Media (AOM), whose members embrace Alphabet unit Google, Amazon, Apple and Meta, the European Fee stated on Thursday.
The investigation is the newest to hit the tech trade, which can be topic to powerful new guidelines in Europe subsequent yr that might power firms to vary their core enterprise fashions and do extra to deal with unlawful content material on their platforms.
“The Fee confirms that it has a preliminary investigation ongoing into AOM’s licensing coverage,” a spokesperson for the EU government advised Reuters.
“The truth that the Fee has a preliminary investigation doesn’t prejudge the result of the investigation on the existence of an infringement,” the spokesperson stated, with out offering additional particulars.
AOM didn’t instantly reply to an emailed request for remark. Based in 2015, the group goals to create a brand new commonplace software program for streaming higher-quality 4K video on browsers, units, apps, and gaming, generally known as AV1.
Whereas the AV1 software program shouldn’t be but adopted extensively, Netflix and YouTube have began utilizing it for some prospects, and browsers equivalent to Google Chrome and Firefox have began to help the brand new format.
Apple and Google didn’t instantly reply to an emailed request for remark. Meta and Amazon declined to remark. Microsoft, Netflix, Broadcom, Cisco, and Tencent, who’re additionally AOM members, didn’t instantly reply to emailed requests for remark.
In a questionnaire despatched to some firms earlier this yr and seen by Reuters, the EU watchdog stated it was investigating alleged anti-competitive behaviour associated to the license phrases of AV1 by AOM and its members in Europe.
“The Fee has info that AOM and its members could also be imposing licensing phrases (obligatory royalty-free cross licensing) on innovators that weren’t part of AOM on the time of the creation of the AV1 technical, however whose patents are deemed important to (its) technical specs,” the paper stated.
It stated this motion could also be proscribing the innovators’ capacity to compete with the AV1 technical specification, and likewise get rid of incentives for them to innovate.
The questionnaire additionally requested concerning the impression of an AOM patent license clause wherein licensees would have their patent licenses terminated instantly in the event that they launched patent lawsuits asserting that implementation infringes their claims.
Firms danger fines of as much as 10 % of their international turnover for breaching EU antitrust guidelines.
© Thomson Reuters 2022