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Microsoft lashes out at FTC over “weak” Google probe

04 Jan 2013
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Microsoft has hit out at the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) long-awaited report into Google's search and patent tactics, damning the organisation for failing to take a tougher stance against the search giant.

The report from the FTC acknowledged there were issues with Google and the firm has agreed to make voluntary changes to some of its practices. However, Microsoft, itself no stranger to regulatory action, has said the investigation raised several concerns.

"We find it troubling that the agency did not adhere to its own standard procedures that call for the agency to obtain industry input on proposed relief and secure it through an enforceable consent decree," wrote Dave Heiner, deputy general counsel Microsoft in a blog post.

"The FTC's overall resolution of this matter is weak and - frankly - unusual. We are concerned that the FTC may not have obtained adequate relief even on the few subjects that Google has agreed to address."

Heiner cited concerns that no action was taken over allegations Google "routinely and systematically heavily promotes its own services in search results".

"Is Google+ really more relevant than Facebook? Are Google's travel results better than those offered by Expedia, Kayak and others?" Heiner added.

Elsewhere, on the issue of taking action of standard essential patents (SEPs), Microsoft pointed out that conditions it, and market rival Apple, had agreed to last year promising not to take action over these patents were ignored by Google. It added the FTC has seemingly kowtowed to Google, after it bucked the trend.

"Neither Microsoft nor Apple ever filed injunction lawsuits against any firm for their use of standard essential patents subject to a FRAND licensing commitment. As the FTC recognises today, Google did abuse its standard essential patents by seeking injunctions on the basis of them," Heiner wrote.

"Given this, we are disappointed that the FTC accepted less relief from Google than the DoJ obtained from Microsoft and Apple last year."

Microsoft will be hoping the ongoing European Commission investigation into Google over similar concerns to those of the FTC is settled with stronger action.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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