Google Sends Antitrust Remedy Proposals to EU: Report

 
 
By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-01-31 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Google again makes its case as it seeks a way to resolve the European Union's antitrust concerns about the company's business practices.

Instead of an antitrust prosecution here, Google entered into a voluntary agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to change some of its business practices to resolve the complaints of some competitors about Google's practices.

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.

Google denied all such allegations at that time, noting that its search algorithms analyze Website quality and popularity based on links for placement as part of its PageRank system.

In July, Google reached a record $22.5 million settlement with the FTC to resolve charges that Google bypassed Apple Safari browser privacy settings that blocked cookies for their users. The settlement was criticized in a statement by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an industry group, as "a dangerously overbroad precedent that will chill Internet innovation and hurt online startups."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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