Google agrees to change its business practices in markets for mobile devices and game systems and give advertisers the flexibility to use rival search engines

FTC, Google reach settlement on antitrust issues

After a two-year antitrust investigation into the business practices of Google Inc., the United States Federal Trade Commission on Thursday announced that the Internet search giant has agreed to give its competitors access to its “standard-essential patents” and allow advertisers to use rival search engines.

“Under a settlement reached with FTC, Google will meet its prior commitments to allow competitors access – on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms – to patents on patents on critical standardized technologies need to make popular devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablet computers and gaming consoles,” a statement issued by the trade commission said.

In a separate letter to the FTC, Google also agreed to give online advertisers more flexibility to simultaneously post and manage ad campaigns on Google AdWords and on rival sites. Google also agreed not to misappropriate and use on its own vertical site online content from other vertical Websites.

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“The changes Google 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,” said Jon Leibowitz, FTC chairman. “The decision strengthens the standard-setting process that is the heart of innovation in today’s marketplace.”

A global tech company with more than 32,000 workers worldwide and annual revenue of over US$38 billion, Google has held a virtually monopoly or online search market.

In 2012, the company also acquired Motorola Mobility including its 24,000 tech patents and patent applications (mostly dealing with wireless connectivity and Internet technologies) for $12.5 billion. According to the FTC these patents are “essential” for smartphones, tablets, gaming systems, operating systems, wireless connectivity and high definition videos.

In May of last year, Google also received an ultimatum from European Union antitrust regulators for alleged anti-competitive practices.

Read the full FTC statement here

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