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Report: FTC Looking to Bring Antitrust Case Against Google

By - Source: Reuters | B 20 comments

The FTC may push forward with an antitrust case against Google based on complaints that it tampers with search results to lower competitor rankings.

Reuters reports that four members of the Federal Trade Commission are convinced that Google, the current #1 search engine company, used its market dominance to purposely hurt competitors. The four FTC commissioners came to this conclusion after conducting an investigation into Google's practices for more than a year.

The report arrives by way of three people familiar with the matter who declined to be named to protect their working relationships. Two of the sources told Reuters that a decision on how to proceed against Google could arrive sometime in late November or early December. They also said that a fifth commissioner remains skeptical.

The FTC's investigation ignited from a growing list of rivals specializing in travel, shopping and entertainment – including Yelp and Nextag – that have accused Google of unfairly giving their services a low quality ranking in search results. They claim that because of this forced ranking, Google's own similar services are seen first by potential customers. In order to get noticed, rivals are forced to purchase more ads to improve their visibility.

But last year during a congressional hearing, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel that Google does not manipulate its search results. "We've not cooked anything," he said. And just recently, Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick said that the company is open to any questions about how Google conducts its business.

So if Google is so "transparent," then why does the FTC believe there may be a case? One source told Reuters that other complaints that have piled up against Google "give weight" to the antitrust issue. These additional complaints include accusations that the search engine giant refuses to share data that would allow developers and advertisers to create software for comparing ad spending on Bing or Yahoo against ad spending on Google.

In addition to the current investigation, the FTC is also looking into Google's handling of valuable patents. The government agency is trying to determine if these patents are licensed fairly, and if patent infringement lawsuits filed by Google are actually used to hamper competitor innovation. A decision is expected to be made by the end of the year, and could mean that Google will be forced to spend millions fighting in court, or to strike a deal with the FTC.

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    dark_knight33 , October 17, 2012 3:09 AM
    Quote:
    the FTC is also looking into Google's handling of valuable patents. The government agency is trying to determine if these patents are licensed fairly, and if patent infringement lawsuits filed by Google are actually used to hamper competitor innovation.


    Uhh... Where's the FTC when it comes to Apple? Apple has been trying to put Android manufacturers out of business for 3 years now. They don't want to license patents, they go for product import bans over stuff like a ridiculous "rounded rectangle" patent. :pfff: 

    As a way of showing my appreciation, I just bought 2 new Galaxy S3s from Best buy on Sunday. F*** you Apple.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    dark_knight33 , October 17, 2012 3:09 AM
    Quote:
    the FTC is also looking into Google's handling of valuable patents. The government agency is trying to determine if these patents are licensed fairly, and if patent infringement lawsuits filed by Google are actually used to hamper competitor innovation.


    Uhh... Where's the FTC when it comes to Apple? Apple has been trying to put Android manufacturers out of business for 3 years now. They don't want to license patents, they go for product import bans over stuff like a ridiculous "rounded rectangle" patent. :pfff: 

    As a way of showing my appreciation, I just bought 2 new Galaxy S3s from Best buy on Sunday. F*** you Apple.
  • 4 Hide
    southernshark , October 17, 2012 3:31 AM
    Nextag SHOULD receive a low quality ranking. It is a garbage website whose only purpose is to create lawsuits.
  • Display all 20 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    dimar , October 17, 2012 3:41 AM
    How about Google adding a comments section for each website or domain for users to rate and comment on. So if some website is selling garbage, fraud, or malware users will be aware of it.
  • 1 Hide
    keither5150 , October 17, 2012 3:46 AM
    Dark knight is right. F u apple. My wife has a Galaxy S2 I am kinda waiting for nokia 920 with W8. Even siri thinks that nokia makes the best phone. I have tried many search engines. I really wanted to like bing (their video preview rocks) Google is still the best.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-0Viki2UDU
  • 0 Hide
    whatisupthere , October 17, 2012 4:28 AM
    And the Lawyers rejoice
  • 5 Hide
    Kami3k , October 17, 2012 5:23 AM
    It's not Google's fault it tends to be the best in what it does.
  • 6 Hide
    alidan , October 17, 2012 5:57 AM
    Kami3kIt's not Google's fault it tends to be the best in what it does.


    ftc "no, you cant advertise your own product over your competitors, that isnt fair to them that when someone uses your search engine, your things show up first"

    i say if they want to be #1 on a search engine, make their own.
  • 4 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 17, 2012 6:33 AM
    Why doesnt somebody bring a fucking antitrust case to Apple ?
  • 4 Hide
    flamethrower205 , October 17, 2012 7:01 AM
    Is google obligated to provide "fair" search results?
    If they are I can see how this is a problem, but is that the case? I mean we choose to use and trust google's search results; if there is unacceptable bias the consumer could choose not to use the search.
    I don't know anything about law in these matters tho, so I'm curious to hear what someone who knows has to say.
  • 3 Hide
    tomfreak , October 17, 2012 7:38 AM
    yeah...... taking my google map away in ios6, just because Apple say they can. So when is Apple's turn?
  • 4 Hide
    builder4 , October 17, 2012 11:10 AM
    Try googling "search engine" - dogpile, bing and altavista all come before google in the results. Even though NO ONE uses dogpile or altavista.
    If you search for "email", hotmail comes up before gmail.
    If you search for "browser", firefox and opera come up before chrome.
    I don't think the problem is as serious as they are making out.
  • 3 Hide
    colson79 , October 17, 2012 1:13 PM
    It always amuses me that on Tom's hardware, no matter what the article is about some manages to bring in Apple to the comments. This article didn't mention Apple at all, yet the first comment post talks about Apple. The Apple hate on this site is Epic.

  • -4 Hide
    ericburnby , October 17, 2012 1:28 PM
    dark_knight33Uhh... Where's the FTC when it comes to Apple? Apple has been trying to put Android manufacturers out of business for 3 years now. They don't want to license patents, they go for product import bans over stuff like a ridiculous "rounded rectangle" patent. As a way of showing my appreciation, I just bought 2 new Galaxy S3s from Best buy on Sunday. F*** you Apple.


    Amazed such an ignorant comment could get so many likes. Actually, I'm not. Par for the course on most forums.

    Case in point: Apple attempted to license their patents to Samsung BEFORE the lawsuit was filed. Microsoft has already licensed those same patents from Apple for the Surface.

    So much for your BS comment about Apple not licensing.
  • 1 Hide
    Kamab , October 17, 2012 3:09 PM
    Haha, google is getting in trouble for flimsy patent lawsuits? The FTC should take a look at the whole tech industry. As for the hate on Apple, they are the most aggressive defenders of design and software patents on the planet. Both of which (types of patents) would be the first to disappear if our system was ever to be fixed. There is pretty much an inverse correlation between a company exercising it's patents (and it's success at doing so) and that company's willingness to innovate.
  • 0 Hide
    Kamab , October 17, 2012 3:11 PM
    "The government agency is trying to determine if these patents are licensed fairly, and if patent infringement lawsuits filed by Google are actually used to hamper competitor innovation." This is the point of all patent infringement lawsuits in the tech sector, which have been on the rise for the past decade.
  • -3 Hide
    jaquith , October 17, 2012 5:01 PM
    What does any of this have to do with Apple?? You guys baffle me. This is basically the same anti competitive tactics Microsoft used in the mid-90's. If you're okie dokie with being steered and herded like cattle or sheep then none of this applies to you. Otherwise it's a problem for the masses who either work for or own any company that's losing business and or being held hostage by Google's relevant (i.e. paid or sponsored) Google searches. Best has no relevance, and the only relevance is the monopolistic Google.

    The 'patent' issues are low on the totem pole in this antitrust suit.

    Imagine if Microsoft steered it's OS against Google or anything non-Microsoft? Well they did until their own antitrust suit.
  • 0 Hide
    dalethepcman , October 17, 2012 7:07 PM
    The Government hates on Google some more... Sorry FTC, but shouldn't you be paying attention to the real anti-trust issues?

    I also LOL at the Apple hate, but the article can be directly applies to Apple's ridiculous patents and them attempting to stifle competitors with frivolous lawsuits.

    As to the comment about Apple asking Samsung to license their products, you have that 100% backwards. Samsung asked Apple to license their products under FRAND terms, Apple said F U, then attempted to get Samsung products banned using a patent for a rectangle with rounded corners...
  • 1 Hide
    dark_knight33 , October 17, 2012 8:32 PM
    ericburnbyAmazed such an ignorant comment could get so many likes. Actually, I'm not. Par for the course on most forums.Case in point: Apple attempted to license their patents to Samsung BEFORE the lawsuit was filed. Microsoft has already licensed those same patents from Apple for the Surface.So much for your BS comment about Apple not licensing.



    U jelly bro?

    Apple's Director of Patent Licensing and Strategy, Boris Teslker:
    Quote:
    Teksler testified there were three categories of patents held by Apple: Those required for standards, those for core computing and those related to Apple’s unique user interface. Teksler said that Apple has no interest in licensing those patents.

    “It’s what we don’t wish to share and don’t want others to mimic,” Teksler said


    Yeah... That's Apple being oh so cooperative for you, kinda like how the iphone's music management works. Apple to iphone users: Use itunes or f*** off. What exactly has Apple done here to allow others to build products around the iphone? Microsoft did this with IE and got sued the crap out of. Apple openly builds a hardware chip to prevent other companies from building iaccessories.

    Apple is the definition of Anti-Competitive behavior, and it's pretty hypocritical of the FTC to go after Google who is essentially giving away Android instead of Apple for trying to stop it.
  • 0 Hide
    demonhorde665 , October 18, 2012 6:11 PM
    i am stunned by the volume of tom's readers defending google ... google is a dirty rotten company ,i haven't used their a-- end search engine since 2001. it's about time some one stepped up to these f---ers.
  • 0 Hide
    demonhorde665 , October 18, 2012 6:23 PM
    colson79It always amuses me that on Tom's hardware, no matter what the article is about some manages to bring in Apple to the comments. This article didn't mention Apple at all, yet the first comment post talks about Apple. The Apple hate on this site is Epic.


    that;'s because apple is deserving of that hate. come up with one reason why they arn't deserving of hate.

    ericburnbyAmazed such an ignorant comment could get so many likes. Actually, I'm not. Par for the course on most forums.Case in point: Apple attempted to license their patents to Samsung BEFORE the lawsuit was filed. Microsoft has already licensed those same patents from Apple for the Surface.So much for your BS comment about Apple not licensing.


    you are leaving out the fact that , Apple also DID NOT have the patents yet, they were still pending when they tried to get samsung to pay up. secondly any one who patents a freaking RECTANGLE with round edges , is an a-- deserving of the utmost torments the rest of the world can throw at them. and the guy that eventually gave apple the patents for a round edged rectangle , should have his balls chopped off and fed to hungry aligators. The fact MS licensed the patent later speaks volumes for how stupid MS is for bascially validating apple patenting a rectangle. and you deserve to have your head stuffed in an oven till it's well done for defending apple.




    now on topic , google should get reemed over their dirty tactics.