FTC settles Google Antitrust case

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Investigation into search bias closed

The FTC has closed its Google antitrust investigation, concluding that there was not enough factual evidence to support allegations of search bias.

The case looked closely at claims that Google had manipulated its search algorithms in an attempt to harm the visibility of vertical websites and endorse its own vertical properties. The FTC looked specifically at Universal Search which displays Google properties such as shopping and local to determine whether Google had been attempting to remove or reduce a competition threat.

However, the FTC concluded that changes to the search algorithm and the introduction of Universal Search were justified as they both had improved Google's products and user experience, even if they had effected competitors.

Some changes for Google

The FTC did have some concerns regarding several of Google's business practices which the search engine giant has agreed to resolve. Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC, said: "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."

Firstly, Google will be required to permit competitors access to essential patents for key technologies. It has also agreed to remove current restrictions on Google Adwords so that search advertising competition isn't harmed and online advertising campaigns can be managed effectively across different platforms.

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, said: "The FTC's conclusion that Google must review its patent and Adwords restrictions highlights the importance of fair and reasonable competition amongst search engines."