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January 3, 2013

FTC concludes Google antitrust probe

Google trying to resolve a similar investigation in Europe.

By CBR Staff Writer

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has closed the 20-month antitrust probe into Google‘s web-search business that investigated whether it had manipulated its search results to favour its own services.

As part of the deal, Google will allow its rivals access on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms to patents on important technologies required to manufacture popular devices that include smart phones, laptop and tablet computers, and gaming consoles.

The search engine company has also agreed to offer more flexibility to online advertisers to simultaneously administer ad campaigns on Google’s AdWords platform and on rival ad platforms.

Google has also agreed to refrain from misappropriating online content from so-called ‘vertical’ websites that target specific categories including shopping or travel for deployment in its proprietary vertical offerings.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said that the changes Google has agreed to make will ensure that consumers will continue to get the benefits of competition in the online marketplace and in the market for innovative wireless devices.

"This was an incredibly thorough and careful investigation by the Commission, and the outcome is a strong and enforceable set of agreements," Leibowitz said.

"This decision strengthens the standard-setting process that is at the heart of innovation in today’s technology markets."

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Microsoft and other Google rivals had pushed the FTC to bring a broad antitrust case against Google, which is similar to the sweeping Justice Department litigation against Microsoft earlier in the 1990s.

Google is also trying to resolve a similar antitrust investigation in Europe, and a resolution to that case is expected to be released within the coming weeks.

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