December 16, 2012
Federal regulators may end a two-year antitrust probe of Google’s search business by letting the company make voluntary changes, such as limiting use of restaurant and travel reviews from other websites and letting search ad campaigns be easily ported to rival search services, two sources with knowledge of the case told POLITICO.
The FTC is also preparing to enter into a settlement with Google on a related case over how the company uses its acquired stockpile of patents against competitors, as POLITICO reported last week. Under the patent agreement, Google will curtail using key patents it picked up when it purchased Motorola Mobility to block competitors infringing those patents from getting their products to the market, although there are exceptions, sources said.
By allowing Google to voluntarily address some complaints about use of its dominant search and search advertising businesses, the company would avoid a consent decree that could be enforced by the FTC over time. That is sure to upset Google critics and complainants, who will see it as more of a slap on the wrist.