Google and the Federal Trade Commission Reach Agreements

By David Bruggeman
January 11, 2013

On January 3rd, the Federal Trade Commission completed its antitrust review of Google. After 19 months of investigation, the Commission announced that Google will make changes to its search and other business practices in order to allay concerns that the company is engaged in anti-competitive behavior. Some critics consider the FTC actions soft and the agreements a slap on the wrist.

There were two separate agreements announced last week. One concerns Google’s patent behavior, and that agreement would ensure that competitors would be allowed access to patents on critical technologies. This relates primarily to the Motorola patents purchased by the company. Any dispute resolution would be sought through a neutral third party before Googles opts to take legal action.

The other agreement is a commitment to remove restrictions on advertisers’ use of AdWords that could hamper their ability to coordinate campaigns across platforms.

The Commission closed its investigation into allegations of search bias (skewing search results to favor company products – which was the subject of an advertising campaign) finding that Google’s changes could be justified as innovations that benefit consumers. Google will allow content creators to opt out of showing up in Google’s search results, to minimize the possibility that Google could be seen as representing other companies’ content as its own.