US trade body ends long Google probe with mild reprimand
WASHINGTON: In a major victory for Google Inc, US regulators on Thursday ended their investigation into the giant Internet company and concluded that it had not manipulated its Web search results to hurt rivals.
The Federal Trade Commission did, however, win promises from Google that it would end the practice of “scraping” reviews and other data from rivals' websites for its own products, and to allow advertisers to export data to independently evaluate advertising campaigns.
Google also agreed to no longer request sales bans when suing companies which infringe on patents that are essential to ensuring interoperability, also known as standard essential patents, the FTC said. Microsoft and other Google rivals have pressed the FTC to bring a broad antitrust case against Google similar to the sweeping Justice Department litigation against Microsoft in the 1990s.
The news had little impact on Google shares, which closed up 42 cents at $723.7, as most investors had expected the FTC probe to conclude without inflicting major damage.
“I never saw any real likelihood that the feds were going to insert themselves between one of the most popular brands in the world and the constituency that adores it,” said Whit Andrews, an analyst for Gartner Inc.
Meanwhile smaller internet firms such as Nextag have complained about Google tweaking its Web search results to give prominence to its own products.
The Google sign at the Internet search giant’s headquarters in California