by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 13th 2012 8:03pm
A few months ago, there were rumors that the FTC was ready to go after Google with antitrust charges, though we couldn't figure out how this made sense. At first the story was that it was abusing its search position, but there was little evidence to support it. Then there was talk of using its new ownership of Motorola to go after Google for abusing standards essential patents. But... that seemed like a really tangential way to attack Google. And, as more and more details came out, it increasingly looked like this was an effort by the FTC's chair, Jon Liebowitz, to cement a legacy. Along those lines, there were rumors that Google wasn't willing to just cave to demands for a settlement. The latest is that the FTC is likely to come out next week and say that there's no evidence that Google violated antitrust rules with favoring its own sites in search. The Justice Department could conceivably still go after Google, but it's unclear if there's real appetite there. As the report notes, Europe may be a different story. As we saw with the Microsoft antitrust effort, Europe defines "monopoly power" over markets much more loosely than the US does -- and often seems to use antitrust enforcement to punish successful US companies, rather than look at whether there's actual consumer harm. So, in that venue, it wouldn't be surprising to see Google pressured into a settlement of some sort.
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