Google, FTC Reach Agreement On Competition Issues

The FTC has issued a press release claiming that it has reached an agreement with Google to resolve competition concerns in the markets for smartphones, games, tablets, and online search.

The FTC states that pursuant to a settlement agreement, Google will comply with earlier promises to permit access to competitors on reasonable terms to patents on certain popular devices. And as a result of an independent commitment letter, Google will provide greater flexibility to online advertisers to manage advertisement campaigns on Google’s AdWords platform and to make sure not to misappropriate content from vertical sites that target specific categories (such as travel) for offerings.

In addition to the foregoing, the FTC had launched an investigation to determine if Google had biased its search results to the detriment of some vertical sites. The FTC also looked into whether Google had engaged in anticompetitive agreements for the distribution of Google Search in the desktop and mobile areas.

Significantly, the FTC decided not to take any follow-up action with respect to this investigation. According to Beth Wilkinson, outside FTC counsel, “regarding the specific allegations that [Google] biased its search results to hurt competition, the evidence collected to date did not justify legal action by the [FTC].”

Ms. Wilkinson added: “Google took aggressive actions to gain advantage over rival search providers. However, the FTC’s mission is to protect competition, not individual competitors. The evidence did not demonstrate that Google’s actions in this area stifled competition in violation of U.S. law.”

The FTC-Google consent agreement will be subject to public comment until Feb. 4. After that date, the FTC will consider whether to finalize the agreement.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP ( where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His profesisonal biography can be accessed at and he can be reached at To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod’s columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual partners.

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