Google Gets FTC Off Its Back By Promising Better Business Practices

Paul Lilly

The FTC's probe into Google's business practices is officially over.

Google has reason to celebrate heading into the weekend. The sultan of search scored what some might consider a lopsided settlement agreement with the Federal Communications Commission (FTC) in which no fines were assessed. Instead, Google merely had to promise to change its business practices to resolve competition concerns in mobile, PC, and gaming console markets.

Specifically, Google agreed not to request sales bans when suing companies that infringe on standardized patents critical to the operation of popular devices, like smartphones, laptops, and other electronics gear. In addition, Google agreed to give online advertisers more flexibility to manage ad campaigns on Google's AdWord platform and on rival ad platforms at the same time.

"The changes Google has agreed to make will ensure that consumers continue to reap the benefits of competition in the online marketplace and in the market for innovative wireless devices they enjoy," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "This was an incredibly thorough and careful investigation by the Commission, and the outcome is a strong and enforceable set of agreements.

"We are especially glad to see that Google will live up to its commitments to license its standard-essential patents, which will ensure that companies willing to license these patents can compete in the market for wireless devices," Leibowitz added. "This decision strengthens the standard-setting process that is at the heart of innovation in today’s technology markets."

The FTC voted 4 to 1 to end its probe into Google patent practices, and unanimously decided to stop looking into Google's search practices, in which the company was accused by rivals of manipulating search results.

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