Austin Technology Law Blog
FTC Concludes Investigation Into Google's Search Practices, Finds Nothing Much Wrong There. Hey, Google It If You Don't Believe It!
The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Google's practices in regard to patent licensing, search results and other matters for about two years. The FTC sought to determine if Google's practices in these regards were anti-competitive. The FTC ended their investigation the first week of this year and entered into an agreement with Google in exchange for the FTC agreeing not to pursue the matter further.
Part of the analysis by the FTC was a investigation into whether Google manipulated its search algorithms such that websites that competed with Google's "vertical" results (i.e. sponsored Google sites) were moved down in the search results with concomitant damages to the click through rate to such competing sites. The FTC found that even though "...some of Google’s rivals may have lost sales due to an improvement (sic) in Google’s product...(t)he totality of the evidence indicates that, in the main, Google adopted the design changes that the Commission investigated to improve the quality of its search results, and that any negative impact on actual or potential competitors was incidental to that purpose." The Commission went on to say "...these changes to Google’s search algorithm could reasonably be viewed as improving the overall quality of Google’s search results because the first search page now presented the user with a greater diversity of websites."
Needless to say, not all were enamored with the FTC's actions. Microsoft, having been kicked around by the FTC for years, bemoaned the actions as "weak". Others found it to be totally justified.
Whatever your view, this is a win for Google and clears up their docket to proceed with their pursuit of world domination. Not that there's anything wrong with that.