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Google This: A Look at the Antitrust Suits Facing the Tech Giant


With an FTC decision pending, will Google find itself deleted?

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL There is chatter all over the Web indicating that the Federal Trade Commission's decision on whether or not it will slap Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) with an antitrust suit is imminent.

The FTC has been investigating Google for a year and a half, trying to determine if claims that Google has given its own services precedence over competitors in search results are true. If they are, this would mean Google has been listing services like YouTube, Google Drive, and Google Maps above competing products in search results.

Competitors say Google should not be able to use its search engine, which has 67% market saturation, to manipulate search results in Google's favor: This chokes competition.

On top of the search engine manipulation claims, the FTC launched a probe in June into accusations that Google's effort to block imports of products made by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was an unfair practice. Google has stood behind its claim that its competitors' devices infringe on Google's Motorola Mobility patents. The patents, however, most likely fall under the category of 'industry-standard technology,' which functions to help mobile products from different manufacturers work together.

The question for the FTC is, then, has Google offered its technology on fair and reasonable terms in accordance with a preexisting, industry-wide pledge to license these types of patents?

The Hill reports that with Mitt Romney's loss, Google's last chance to escape antitrust charges are gone. Romney would have appointed a new FTC chairman, and Republicans would have held three of the five commissioner seats. It's a little antithetical when considering the $3.92 million Google spent lobbying the US government in Q2, up 90% year-over-year, and then finding out Google was the third largest corporate donor to the Obama campaign.

Sources close to the case have said FTC staffers have found evidence Google is violating antitrust laws, and have recommend the commissioners to file suit.

In the scenario that Google does find itself in court, it will be pressed to license its patents at a cheaper price. That's easy to do. However, making changes to Google's extremely complex search algorithm presents a multitude of problems -- one of which is the incredible amount of resources needed for a federal agency to monitor Google's programming practices.
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