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Google to License Motorola Patents, Ending FTC’s Antitrust Investigation

The "Googleplex" in Mountain View, California | Wikipedia

The “Googleplex” in Mountain View, California | Wikipedia

Google was able to ward off an antitrust investigation from the US Federal Trade Commission, as they agree to license certain patents to it mobile phone industry rivals like Apple. According to the commission, the search engine giant agreed to license “essential” patents to competitors, some of which were acquired in its acquisition of Motorola Mobility. As stated by FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz:

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. This was an incredibly thorough and careful investigation by the Commission, and the outcome is a strong and enforceable set of agreements.

Because of this, Google will not let competitors access to fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory patents that are integral for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and gaming consoles.

To sum it up, Google has agreed to take the following steps, as detailed by FTC:

  • Google will not seek injunctions to block rivals from using patents essential to key technologies.
  • Google will remove restrictions hampering advertiser’s management of their ad campaigns across competing ad platforms.

Flexible Ad Campaigns with Google’s AdWords

Aside from the essential patents, Google also agreed to give advertisers more flexibility to manage their ad campaigns on Google AdWords with other ad platforms. That’s because FTC found the search engine giant’s business practice stifling the competition in mobile device markets and online search advertising. As pointed out by the commission’s outside counsel, Beth Wilkinson:

The evidence FTC uncovered through this intensive investigation prompted us to require significant changes in Globe’s business practices. However, regarding the specific allegations that the company biased its search results to hurt competition, the evidence collected to date did not just justify legal action by the Commission.

Undoubtedly, Google took aggressive actions to gain advantage over rival search providers. However, the FTC’s mission is to protect competition, and not individual competitors. The evidence did not demonstrate that Google’s actions in this area stifled competition in violation of US law.

Prior to this, Google also ran into trouble with FTC last year for bypassing the settings in Apple’s Safari browser. The search engine giant agreed to pay $22.5 million fine for ignoring the Cupertino-based company’s security settings. The said security settings were designed to prevent advertisers from tracking users with cookies.

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