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January 2, 2013

Google could settle antitrust probe with FTC this week

Also expected to alter its treatment of content from other sites

By CBR Staff Writer

Search engine giant Google is all set to resolve the 20-month antitrust probe into its web-search business with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this week, with a voluntary agreement and a consent decree on the firm’s alleged misuse of patents, sources say.

The FTC is anticipated to end its probe into whether Google distorted its search results to favour its own services without enforcement action, which puts at disadvantage its rivals including Microsoft, Yelp and Expedia, companies which had raised concerns over Google’s dominance of the online search industry.

As part of its voluntary concessions, Google is also expected to alter its usage of content from other websites, while allowing advertisers to export data to other platforms, according to reports.

Fairsearch.org, the alliance that includes Microsoft, said in a statement that the FTC shouldn’t resolve its probe until it gains knowledge about the company’s offerings for the European Commission.

"The FTC has every reason to consider Google’s proposal to the EC before deciding how to resolve the FTC’s own investigation to ensure that US consumers and innovators get at least the benefit of the remedies that are implemented in Europe," the group said.

"If the FTC fails to take decisive action to end Google’s anti-competitive practices, and locks itself out of any remedies to Google’s conduct that are offered in Europe later this month, the FTC will have acted prematurely and failed in its mission of protecting America’s consumers."

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