FTC Lets Google Off The Hook In Search Competition Case

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From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

In a case that some people thought echoed the Justice Department’s landmark antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft in the 1990s, the Federal Trade Commission today announced it has closed its case against search giant Google. The upshot: Google essentially got off scot-free on the key issue of its search practices.

The deal concludes that the key issue that would have potentially rewritten how Google does search–whether the company engaged in unfair competitive practices with its industry-leading search engine–was not sufficient to require Google to make any changes, let alone pay any fine. Instead, it requires the company to take only voluntary measures that likely won’t have a significant impact on Google’s business. From Google’s own blog post on the deal:

  • More choice for websites: Websites can already opt out of Google Search, and they can now remove content (for example reviews) from specialized search results pages, such as local, travel and shopping;
  • More ad campaign control: Advertisers can already export their ad campaigns from Google AdWords. They will now be able to mix and copy ad campaign data within third-party services that use our AdWords API.

In a somewhat more significant part of the deal, Google also agreed to make its standards-essential patents available on so-called fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms without using injunctions to block their use by rivals.

Again, from Google:

In addition, we’ve agreed with the FTC that we will seek to resolve standard-essential patent disputes through a neutral third party before seeking injunctions. This agreement establishes clear rules of the road for standards essential patents going forward.

Here’s more from the FTC release: …

Read the complete post at The New Persuaders.

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Yahoo, Facebook Kiss And Make Up, Ending Crazy Patent War

From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

Ending one of the more bizarre spats in Silicon Valley lately, Yahoo and Facebook have settled their patent disputeYahoo had sued Facebook back in March, alleging the social network infringed on 10 Yahoo patents concerning advertising and social networking itself.

The suit had turned much of Silicon Valley against Yahoo, since the suit seemed so clearly timed to force soon-to-go-public Facebook into coughing up a big cash or stock settlement. But the move backfired, as Facebook then not only spent big bucks to buy its own patent trove, it countersued Yahoo. Not long afterward, Yahoo’s then-CEO Scott Thompson, whom some has said was a driver of the suit, left under a cloud thanks to apparent doctoring of his resume. In early June, negotiations began between the two companies to end the fight.

How dumb an idea was Yahoo’s decision to sue one of the most powerful and influential companies in technology today, one that had been a partner up to then? So dumb that the settlement doesn’t include monetary considerations to Yahoo at all, beyond a vague promise to work together more closely in the future….

Read the complete post at The New Persuaders.

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