Google has come to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after a 19-month long investigation failed to turn up anything illegal.
The allegation that Google unfairly weighted their own services in search results – pointing web surfers to its maps and shopping sites first – was largely unfounded, according to the FTC. They did find evidence of bias, but it was not seen as an antitrust violation and didn’t merit legal action, according to outside counsel for the Commission.
“Google took aggressive actions to gain advantage over rival search providers, but the FTC’s mission is to protect competition and not individual competitors,” said Beth Wilkinson, an attorney hired to lead the FTC investigation.
Concessions made by Google
Google will make some changes as a result of the FTC probe. On request, they will refrain from including text grabbed from other websites in their search results, a practice known as scraping. That was one of the factors that triggered the FTC investigation when search engine competitor Yelp Inc. complained about it in 2011.
They will also change their online advertising system so that their marketing campaigns are more compatible with competing networks.
But the biggest concession may be that Google will be required to charge “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” prices for licensing patents that are necessary to operate smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices. Google acquired those patents last year when they bought Motorola Mobility.
As a result, people with iPhones and other devices that operate on non-Android systems can rest assured that their apps, like the ones they use to manage credit card and bank accounts, will still be accessible.