Update: Google Books, Pimm’s and Pitcher’s

In an exciting TechBlog update, we can report the latest development in the Google Books dispute which we originally reported on last week. The Department of Justice was scheduled to consider Google’s proposed Settlement Agreement at a “Fairness Hearing” on October 7th. However the plaintiffs in the dispute, the US Authors Guild, moved last week for an adjournment of the Hearing. Google did not oppose. This adjournment is a clear admission that the parties need to redraft the Agreement.

It’s thought that the parties took this step in response to a recent announcement by the Department of Justice to the effect that the Agreement in its present form probably violated antitrust law. In passing the motion, Federal Judge Chin’s Court Order noted: “the current settlement agreement raises significant issues, as demonstrated not only by the number of objections, but also by the fact that the objectors include countries, states, non-profit organizations and prominent authors and law professors.” Nobody important then.

Diageo and Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, have managed to put down their handbags and have ended the Pimm’s/Pitcher’s dispute which we reported on  last month. The specifics of the deal are under wraps but we understand that Sainsbury’s can maintain the “Pitcher’s” brand but will have to add “Sainsbury’s” to the label and also change the colour of the label from gold to orange. The practical impact of these changes is pretty unclear and they might not make much difference to the consumer. It reminds me a bit of the time I went to see the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and reckoned it was far more “red” than “golden”, only to be told by a tour guide that the colour of paint actually used on it was “international orange”. I think Sainsbury’s have got a good deal here (provided that Pitcher’s isn’t a dud product which will tarnish their brand).

John McGonagle

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