Google Antitrust Case in EU Will Linger Through August
Google will likely have to wait until late August before any decisions are made about its antitrust case in the European Union.In the FTC case, Google won a huge battle as the commission voted to close its longtime investigation into allegations that Google has been manipulating its search algorithms to favor Google's results over competitors. Instead, the FTC found that there was not enough evidence to prove such allegations. Both decisions were announced Jan. 3 in an FTC conference call that capped a 19-month investigation into Google's search practices and patent portfolios in the smartphone, tablet and gaming device markets. Among the key parts of the FTC agreement with Google is that the search company will end some past business practices that could stifle competition in the markets for popular devices such as smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles, as well as the market for online search advertising, according to the agency. Under a binding settlement with the FTC, Google will allow competitors access "on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory terms to patents on critical standardized technologies needed to make popular devices such as smartphones, laptop and tablet computers, and gaming consoles," the FTC reported. Google was first notified by the FTC of a "formal review" of its business practices in June 2011 after similar reviews began in Europe. At that time, the European Commission launched an investigation into the company's search practices after vertical European search engines, such as Foundem, eJustice.fr and Microsoft's Ciao, complained the company favored its own Web services in search results on Google.com over theirs. They argued that this put them at a significant competitive disadvantage in the market. The initial FTC review in 2011 began after the agency heard complaints from Microsoft, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Yelp and other Websites that Google promotes its own Web services above those of competitors.