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FTC Concludes that Google Does Not Violate Antitrust Laws

01.04.13

The FTC and Google reached a landmark agreement regarding allegations of antitrust behavior by Google regarding Google search engine. But also the settlement allows competitors of Google’s “on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms – to patents on critical standardized technologies needed to make popular devices such as smart phones, laptop and tablet computers, and gaming consoles.”

The FTC included the following statement about Google’s search engine:

The evidence the FTC uncovered through this intensive investigation prompted us to require significant changes in Google’s business practices. However, regarding the specific allegations that the company biased its search results to hurt competition, the evidence collected to date did not justify legal action by the Commission.

Undoubtedly, Google took aggressive actions to gain advantage over rival search providers. However, the FTC’s mission is to protect competition, and not individual competitors. The evidence did not demonstrate that Google’s actions in this area stifled competition in violation of U.S. law.

Not everyone is happy with the FTC settlement as the Washington Post reported:

Consumer groups, Google’s rivals and some legal analysts say the company now will be emboldened to enhance the visibility of its own products for travel, shopping and other lucrative services in ways that will make it harder for people to find other offerings and will lead to higher prices.

After almost 2 years of investigation by the FTC surely Google is pleased. Comscore’s latest rankings indicate 67% of all US searches on conducted on Google, so this FTC resolution remains to be seen how this will impact the search engine market.
 

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