Thursday, January 3, 2013
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
The FTC has announced it's settlement with Google regarding internet search. Google seems to have gotten off relatively lightly. According to the press release:
Under a settlement reached with the FTC, Google will meet its prior commitments to allow competitors access – on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms – to patents on critical standardized technologies needed to make popular devices such as smart phones, laptop and tablet computers, and gaming consoles. In a separate letter of commitment to the Commission, Google has agreed to give online advertisers more flexibility to simultaneously manage ad campaigns on Google’s AdWords platform and on rival ad platforms; and to refrain from misappropriating online content from so-called “vertical” websites that focus on specific categories such as shopping or travel for use in its own vertical offerings.
My prediction is that the next major move at the FTC is that Jon Leibowitz will step down and move on to other things now that he can claim a win for the agency on online search. Time will tell whether or not the investigation had merit and whether or not the settlement improves consuerm welfare.
I address the issue of the strategic use of antitrust in this article.