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Google emerges from FTC antitrust investigation practically unscathed

03 Jan 2013
Google logo (Robert Scoble Flickr)

After 20 months the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ruled that its antitrust investigation into Google can be closed, with the search giant volunteering to make some minor changes.

Google has agreed to change to the way it handles search and patent issues, and has agreed not to sue willing licensees over standard essential patents.

"Today's action delivers more relief for more American consumers faster than any other option available to the commission," said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz at a press conference for the announcement.

"[The agreement] protects competition and consumers in a number of crucial markets central to the daily lives of hundreds of millions of American consumers and businesses."

The FTC's ruling means that Google will no longer be allowed to use licensed standard essential patents it acquired from Motorola in patent infringement lawsuits.

If Google feels a competitor is unfairly using one of its standard essential patents it now must go through a neutral third party arbitrator before seeking litigation.

Google searches will also see some changes. The search giant will no longer be allowed to scrape content from websites for use in its own products.

"The US Federal Trade Commission today announced it has closed its investigation into Google after an exhaustive 19-month review that covered millions of pages of documents and involved many hours of testimony," wrote Google's senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond in a blog post.

"The conclusion is clear: Google's services are good for users and good for competition."

The FTC's ruling ends a lengthy antitrust investigation into Google which started in 2011. FTC officials started its investigation to determine if Google was using its search dominance to promote its services more than its competitors.

Google is also being investigated by the European Commission in a similar antitrust case.


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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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