Google Reaches Agreement with FTC

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Source: courtesy of Google Inc.
Search giant Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced an agreement today to resolve concerns that some of the company’s practices could inhibit competition in the market for mobile devices and for online search advertising. Under terms of the deal, Google agreed not to seek injunctions against rivals for “essential” patents and it will remove restrictions on advertising on competing ad platforms.

The FTC chairman said:

The changes Google has agreed to make will ensure that consumers continue to reap the benefits of competition in the online marketplace and in the market for innovative wireless devices they enjoy. This was an incredibly thorough and careful investigation by the Commission, and the outcome is a strong and enforceable set of agreements.

We are especially glad to see that Google will live up to its commitments to license its standard-essential patents, which will ensure that companies willing to license these patents can compete in the market for wireless devices. This decision strengthens the standard-setting process that is at the heart of innovation in today’s technology markets.

The FTC also acknowledged that its exhaustive investigation of Google’s alleged bias in presenting search results “did not justify legal action by the Committee.” While Google did take “aggressive action” to maintain its advantage over search competitors, “the evidence did not demonstrate” that the company “stifled competition in violation of U.S. law.”

The FTC investigation has taken two years to complete, and the late addition of the essential patents portion of the case may have obscured the central point that complainants were making: that Google manipulates search results to favor its own properties. A similar case in Europe is still still being negotiated.

Paul Ausick

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