Google Wins Antitrust Victory

by Jordan Richardson on January 4, 2013

On Thursday, the United States Federal Trade Commission found that search engine giant Google had not violated any antitrust or anti-competition statutes in the US, ending a long-running investigation into the company’s practices.

The FTC did wag its finger at Google in the form of a mild admonishment to make its standard patents available for licensing to rivals. Google acquired said patents when it bought up Motorola Mobility Holdings to the tune of $12.4 billion last May.

Google also has to end the practice of “scraping” reviews for the sites of its many rivals. It also has to allow advertisers to expert data to allow for the independent evaluation of ad campaigns.

Google’s rivals, namely Research In Motion and Microsoft, have been pressing regulators to seek action in the form of antitrust legislation against the search engine company. It fell to Google to confirm that they weren’t exercising any competitive advantage through favouring its own products in its search results and weren’t controlling the search engine business. To prove this, they pointed to other services like Bing and Yahoo.

Google first disclosed that it was being looked at by the FTC in June of 2011.

It has been criticized handily for tilting search engine results its own way and for cornering the market, nailing down 70 percent of all search engine traffic. With a growing fleet of commerce sites and an international reputation that seems to swell with each passing day, it’s hard not to imagine that the critics have a point.

The FTC, however, didn’t feel the same way. The patent charges were settled by a 4-1 vote, while a 5-0 vote shut down the investigation and closed the book on the antitrust allegations.

The move seems to have surprised few. Investors seemed to anticipate Google’s unscathed emergence from the case and rewarded the company with a $3.53 boost in trading Thursday. And the opposition, those who’ve brought the case before the FTC in the first place, seem to be primed to move their fight to the US Justice Department.

Right now, though, it appears that Google is bulletproof. Not only is the company sending its CEO as part of a delegation to North Korea, but it’s come out swinging and winning in this investigation. The sky is the limit, algorithms be damned.

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