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Google agrees to license Motorola patents, ending FTC's antitrust investigation

post #1 of 72
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Google has warded off an antitrust investigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission by agreeing to license certain patents to its rivals in the mobile phone business.

The FTC announced on Thursday that Google has agreed to license "essential" patents to competitors such as Apple, some of which were acquired in its acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

"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," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. "This was an incredibly thorough and careful investigation by the Commission, and the outcome is a strong and enforceable set of agreements."

Google will allow competitors fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory access to patents essential to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and gaming consoles.

Google


The search giant also agreed to give advertisers more flexibility to manage their ad campaigns with Google's AdWords along with rival ad platforms. And Google also agreed to stop lifting content from "vertical" websites, which focus on categories such as shopping or travel, and presenting it in its own vertical offerings.

The FTC found that Google's business practices could stifle competition in markets for devices like smartphones and tablets, as well as online search advertising.

"The evidence the FTC uncovered through this intensive investigation prompted us to require significant changes in Google?s business practices," said Beth Wilkinson, outside counsel to the FTC. "However, regarding the specific allegations that the company biased its search results to hurt competition, the evidence collected to date did not 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 U.S. law."

In all, Google has agreed to take the following steps, as detailed by the FTC:
  • Google will not seek injunctions to block rivals from using patents essential to key technologies
  • Google will remove restrictions hampering advertisers? management of their ad campaigns across competing ad platforms

The FTC also announced it has closed another investigation into allegations of search bias by Google. The commission took a closer look at Google's "Universal Search" product, but eventually concluded that changes made to Google's search algorithms could be plausibly justified as innovations that improved Google's product, and the experience for its users.

The FTC staff initially recommended in November that Google be sued via antitrust law over FRAND patnet abuse. The FTC began its civil investigation into Google last July.

Google also ran into trouble with the FTC last year for bypassing settings in Apple's Safari browser. Google agreed to pay a record $22.5 million fine for ignoring security settings Apple had designed to prevent advertisers from tracking users with cookies.
post #2 of 72
Huh. All it took was the FTC watchdogging to ensure that google was not being evil.
Imagine that.

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post #3 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In all, Google has agreed to take the following steps, as detailed by the FTC:
  • Google will not seek injunctions to block rivals from using patents essential to key technologies
  •  

It should also be noted that the FTC would not go so far as to bar Google, or any company for that matter, from seeking injunctions based on SEP's in all cases. If a company is deemed to be an unwilling licensee the FTC may not object to an injunction as a cure. In addition a company, for instance Apple, may be be required to commit to binding arbitration if they are unable to reach agreement with the patent holder on an appropriate royalty or risk being deemed as an unwilling licensee, at least as I read it. That's something Apple has found unacceptable so far. Too, the FTC did not find Google had done anything wrong with regard to SEP's so far. 

 

Overall it's sounds like a fair resolution IMO, and the proper way to go forward.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/1210120/130103googlemotorolado.pdf

http://www.fosspatents.com/2012/11/googles-motorola-says-it-wants-binding.html

 

EDIT: I suspect Microsoft is fuming.


Edited by Gatorguy - 1/3/13 at 1:08pm
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post #4 of 72
Interesting development.

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post #5 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

It should also be noted that the FTC would not go so far as to bar Google, or any company for that matter, from seeking injunctions based on SEP's in all cases. If a company is deemed to be an unwilling licensee the FTC may not object to an injunction as a cure. In addition a company, for instance Apple, may be be required to commit to binding arbitration if they are unable to reach agreement with the patent holder on an appropriate royalty or risk being deemed as an unwilling licensee, at least as I read it. That's something Apple has found unacceptable so far. Too, the FTC did not find Google had done anything wrong with regard to SEP's so far. 

 

More of your usual spin nonsense. The problem has always been that Google, et al. haven't been offering FRAND licenses and/or that they've been attempting to double dip. If you have any cases where Apple refused actual FRAND licensing, or refused licensing where it wasn't a case of double dipping, please cite them. Otherwise, stop spreading misinformation.

post #6 of 72

It should be noted that as part of this deal, Google also had to agree to stop stealing content from other web sites, including Yelp.

post #7 of 72
So the FTC made Google pinky-swear it won't abuse SEP and steal content from other sites.

Sounds reasonable. /s
post #8 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...Google be sued via antitrust law over FRAND patnet abuse...

 

The "FRAND patnet", sounds like one of those underground parts of the Internet that pirates and hackers use.

 

Gonna go check the patnet.

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post #9 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

It should also be noted that the FTC would not go so far as to bar Google, or any company for that matter, from seeking injunctions based on SEP's in all cases. If a company is deemed to be an unwilling licensee the FTC may not object to an injunction as a cure. In addition a company, for instance Apple, may be be required to commit to binding arbitration if they are unable to reach agreement with the patent holder on an appropriate royalty or risk being deemed as an unwilling licensee, at least as I read it. That's something Apple has found unacceptable so far. Too, the FTC did not find Google had done anything wrong with regard to SEP's so far. 

Overall it's sounds like a fair resolution IMO, and the proper way to go forward.
https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/1210120/130103googlemotorolado.pdf
http://www.fosspatents.com/2012/11/googles-motorola-says-it-wants-binding.html

EDIT: I suspect Microsoft is fuming.

Apple is just a victim here. Google was asking for unreasonable, discriminated terms, and injunction based on SEP patents. Of course Google is guilty of abusing SEP patents. That's what triggered FTC to escalate the antitrust probe. Like Samsung, Google dropped their Motorola suit quickly after they found out that the authorities were after them. The difference is EU presses on to make sure Samsung pay for their abuses. FTC stops probing and decides not to fine Google after the latter dropped their Motorola injunction.

Whether it's a fair resolution remains to be seen. Google should not have acquired Motorola to abuse the SEP patents in the first place. Looks like Apple is the winner here. Good to see Google stopped from stealing vertical content too.

Apple is fairer here. They work with the verticals to build a viable content and commerce hub rather than stealing and replicating their contents.

Also good to see that Google can't force manufacturers from mixing and matching Android stuff with other services. Skyhook should be happier here. If Android is truly open source, Samsung and Apple should be able to cherry pick stuff to include in their OSes, and also contribute back like WebKit.
Edited by patsu - 1/3/13 at 2:00pm
post #10 of 72

deleted


Edited by MacRulez - 5/16/13 at 12:11pm
post #11 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

 

The "FRAND patnet", sounds like one of those underground parts of the Internet that pirates and hackers use.

 

Gonna go check the patnet.

 

I think it's for mashers.

post #12 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

It should also be noted that the FTC would not go so far as to bar Google, or any company for that matter, from seeking injunctions based on SEP's in all cases. If a company is deemed to be an unwilling licensee the FTC may not object to an injunction as a cure. In addition a company, for instance Apple, may be be required to commit to binding arbitration if they are unable to reach agreement with the patent holder on an appropriate royalty or risk being deemed as an unwilling licensee, at least as I read it. That's something Apple has found unacceptable so far. Too, the FTC did not find Google had done anything wrong with regard to SEP's so far. 

 

Overall it's sounds like a fair resolution IMO, and the proper way to go forward.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/1210120/130103googlemotorolado.pdf

http://www.fosspatents.com/2012/11/googles-motorola-says-it-wants-binding.html

 

EDIT: I suspect Microsoft is fuming.

 

It should be noted that Google had to be told to act this way, by not doing so voluntarily it shows what a pack of hypocritical, lying scumbags these guys are.

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post #13 of 72
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post
I love how AI can make a headline out of one corner of the case, and miss the bigger antitrust issue - here's how the outside world reported this: [links omitted]

 

That's because they are talking mainly about the search and self-promotion abuse, not the SEP abuse. Google were forced to drop their SEP abuse, hence the settlement. If Google were not guilty, they don't have to strike any agreement. They would have walked away without any arrangement.

The arrangement also frees Android somewhat. Before the settlement, Android has always been "it's open when Google say so" open source. Now at least the manufacturers can partner with other services more freely.

The "no stealing from verticals" part should be pretty huge for people like Yelp too.

post #14 of 72
In other words, Google agreed to follow the law... Wow. Jobs was right, the 'do no evil' slogan is bull...
post #15 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by patsu View Post

That's because they are talking mainly about the search and self-promotion abuse, not the SEP abuse. Google were forced to drop their SEP abuse, hence the settlement. If Google were not guilty, they don't have to strike any agreement. They would have walked away without any arrangement.
The arrangement also frees Android somewhat. Before the settlement, Android has always been "it's open when Google say so" open source. Now at least the manufacturers can partner with other services more freely.
The "no stealing from verticals" part should be pretty huge for people like Yelp too.
Of course, what would you expect from Macrulez? Just another typical post.

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post #16 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Huh. All it took was the FTC watchdogging to ensure that google was not being evil.
Imagine that.

 

Well to be fair it took the FTC to *stop* Google from *continuing* to be evil.  They were definitely evil, they just got spanked is all.  

 

Of course this means that the money they spent on Motorola might just as well have been flushed down the toilet. So they are still looking like idiots, but we all knew they didn't have any business sense in the first place so it's kind of a wash I suppose. 

post #17 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

I love how AI can make a headline out of one corner of the case, and miss the bigger antitrust issue - here's how the outside world reported this:

(links omitted) 

Did you miss the "ending FTC's antitrust investigation" part of the headline? I'm not one to defend AI's click bait headlines, but I don't think they missed the "bigger antitrust issue" in this one.

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post #18 of 72
FTC has no teeth. They should have slapped a fee on Google for past violation like EU do with Samsung too. Otherwise big companies can always use SEP for intimidation, like what Samsung is doing now. Samsung can still walk away unscathed since FTC doesn't fine for prior offense here. They can drop their case during settlement with no downside or lesson learned.
post #19 of 72

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Edited by MacRulez - 5/16/13 at 12:11pm
post #20 of 72
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post
Is that how settlement works?

Good thing Apple never violates laws or infringes on patents.

Oh, wait - what does AppleInsider have to say about this: [links omitted]

Most of these are commercial settlements, like HTC and Apple settle out of court for mutual benefits. Not for violation of law. Apple probably get sued every week for patent violation because everyone is trying to milk or fight them. Some on the list are due to manufacturing defects, which is unfortunately h/w business risks.

The price fixing antitrust investigation is indeed on Apple and publishers. That's why they decided to settle for a quick exit and move on.

The anti-poaching one involves Google, Intel, Apple and other large companies. Again they decided to stop the practice.

In Google's antitrust suit, saying they won or are not guilty is not true. They simply took a quick exit to prevent a long drawn SEP abuse fight that will end up with them losing. The search monopoly claim is harder to prove but they were indeed on the wrong for stealing verticals' content.

I suspect people have a bad taste because Google publicize "Do no evil" but don't really follow it. Remember they were also fined for bypassing the Do-not-track user policies for $22+ millions ? If you dig around, you will find other Google misdeeds.

At least the other companies are honest about making money.

post #21 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

Is that how settlement works?

 

 

Give it up, dude. Apple's never violated the law, systematically, and often criminally as Google has repeatedly. You can list all the headlines you want but it doesn't change the fact that Google is a criminal enterprise that ought to be charged under RICO.

post #22 of 72

deleted


Edited by MacRulez - 5/16/13 at 12:11pm
post #23 of 72
I meant in this case, based on Google's own "I shall not do these" list, they have already admitted that they did abuse the SEPs, stole verticals' content, etc.

They chose to drop the SEP suit against Apple, and settle with FTC for a quick exit.

Saying they are not guilty or won is meaningless because they have already owned up. It is FTC that is being kind to Google for not fining them at all. EU is stricter.
post #24 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

It should also be noted that the FTC would not go so far as to bar Google, or any company for that matter, from seeking injunctions based on SEP's in all cases. If a company is deemed to be an unwilling licensee the FTC may not object to an injunction as a cure. In addition a company, for instance Apple, may be be required to commit to binding arbitration if they are unable to reach agreement with the patent holder on an appropriate royalty or risk being deemed as an unwilling licensee, at least as I read it. That's something Apple has found unacceptable so far. Too, the FTC did not find Google had done anything wrong with regard to SEP's so far. 

 

Overall it's sounds like a fair resolution IMO, and the proper way to go forward.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/1210120/130103googlemotorolado.pdf

http://www.fosspatents.com/2012/11/googles-motorola-says-it-wants-binding.html

 

EDIT: I suspect Microsoft is fuming.

I'm not the only one mentioning Microsoft as seen from this article:

http://readwrite.com/2013/01/03/googles-ftc-settlement-is-an-epic-fail-for-microsoft

 

After a 19-month investigation and despite much prodding from Microsoft, the Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement with Google that basically amounts to a slap on the wrist.

This is a crushing blow to Microsoft, which has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists and phony grassroots groups over the past several years hoping to land Google in hot water.

Indeed, Microsoft’s obsession with Google doesn’t just border on crazy. It iscrazy, and not just a little tiny bit crazy but full-blown, bunny-boiling, Ahab-versus-the-whale nutso.

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post #25 of 72

Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post
I'm not the only one mentioning Microsoft as seen from this article:
http://readwrite.com/2013/01/03/googles-ftc-settlement-is-an-epic-fail-for-microsoft
 

After a 19-month investigation and despite much prodding from Microsoft, the Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement with Google that basically amounts to a slap on the wrist.
 

This is a crushing blow to Microsoft, which has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists and phony grassroots groups over the past several years hoping to land Google in hot water.

 

Indeed, Microsoft’s obsession with Google doesn’t just border on crazy. It iscrazy, and not just a little tiny bit crazy but full-blown, bunny-boiling, Ahab-versus-the-whale nutso.


According to this:
http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/google-lobbying-spending-leads-tech-pack-142114

Google spent the most on lobbying among tech companies.

I remember Apple is one of those companies that don't spend a whole lot on lobbyists.

OTOH, Samsung spent feverishly on marketing.

And people wonder why Apple has good profit.

post #26 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

I love how AI can make a headline out of one corner of the case, and miss the bigger antitrust issue - here's how the outside world reported this:

(snip)

 

Nothing but spin here. If anyone comes here expecting real news... I...uh... got news for you. 

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post #27 of 72
I would apply that statement to the entire Internet. We have lost journalism along the way.
post #28 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post If a company is deemed to be an unwilling licensee the FTC may not object to an injunction as a cure. In addition a company, for instance Apple, may be be required to commit to binding arbitration if they are unable to reach agreement with the patent holder on an appropriate royalty or risk being deemed as an unwilling licensee, at least as I read it. That's something Apple has found unacceptable so far. 

Florian Mueller has come to the same conclusion that when this situation comes up again for Apple or other potential SEP-licensees they will have to accept the court's royalty determination or that of an arbitrator without qualification (ie, we'll accept it only if it's less than a dollar) or be deemed an "unwilling licensee". IMO the FTC does look to have made a fair agreement that both draws a line for Google while putting SEP-infringers on notice that it's not a one-way street. There has to be honest negotiations by SEP-licensees or injunctions are back on the table per the settlement.

 

At the same time someone had to make a clear rule on just what it would take to be deemed "unwilling to take a license". Product injunctions, particularly at the ITC, should not be available so freely for minor or honestly disputed infringement of software claims. That applies doubly so for essential IP where injunctions should almost never be available as a cure.


Edited by Gatorguy - 1/3/13 at 4:13pm
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post #29 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Florian Mueller has come to the same conclusion that when this situation comes up again for Apple or other potential SEP-licensees they will have to accept the court's royalty determination (or that of an arbitrator) without qualification or be deemed an "unwilling licensee". IMO the FTC does look to have made a fair agreement that both draws a line for Google while putting SEP-infringers on notice that it's not a one-way street. There has to be honest negotiations by SEP-licensees or injunctions are back on the table per the settlement. At the same time someone had to make a clear rule on just what it would take to be deemed "unwilling to take a license". Product injunctions, particularly at the ITC, should not be available so freely for minor or honestly disputed infringement of software IP. That applies doubly so for essential IP.

If they can't agree on a number, the court decides the final price regardless of whether it's licensed by Apple or other companies. It is non-discriminatory. Or Apple can go look for alternatives. End of story. It won't come to injunction.
post #30 of 72

deleted


Edited by MacRulez - 5/16/13 at 12:15pm
post #31 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

What is the specific dollar figure for lobbying you would characterize as the distinction between ethical and unethical behavior?

If you can, ask the companies that contribute the money. I doubt this sort of info will be provided knowingly and voluntarily.

All I did was Google for lobbyist spending. It is unfortunate that Google had to spend so much on the lobbyists to educate the government on privacy issues, and then turn around to ignore the do-not-track user policy. Did they think that Google wouldn't get fined ?
Edited by patsu - 1/3/13 at 5:00pm
post #32 of 72

deleted


Edited by MacRulez - 5/16/13 at 12:15pm
post #33 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken_sanders_aia View Post

In other words, Google agreed to follow the law...

 

Almost exactly the thought that occurred to me, but I my full thought was . . . 

 

"Google agreed to stop breaking the law, so the FTC agreed to stop looking for Google's wrong doing."

 

As far as the FTC saying, "The evidence did not demonstrate that Google's actions in this area stifled competition in violation of U.S. law." It seems to me that covertly bypassing privacy settings on iOS, stealing content from rivals, and illegally using SEP's to disrupt rivals are all stifling and disruptive. Comparred to they gains Google got from these practices, $27M is spit in the ocean for Google. And far from what the FTC concluded, these hardly seem like actions taken "simply to improve the user experience." The fact that two different users get two different results for the same search terms is proof enough that Google's "search" has been manipulated, favors advertisers over users, and is just marketing rather than search!

 

It seems a very small step from these practices to noncompetitive practices.

 

I don't like Google, but I don't see them as all that different from similar companies in other areas (particularly thinking of cable, media, telecoms, ISP.) The FTC is intentionally clueless, toothless, and in the pocket of business interests.

post #34 of 72
Hm ? #25 simply pointed out that Google outspent MS in lobbying significantly. The original post made a few claims on MS. I don't see why MS's spending is an issue if Google's not. No one knows their breakdown anyway.
post #35 of 72

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Edited by MacRulez - 5/16/13 at 12:14pm
post #36 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post


Yes, I think we're all in agreement on this.  If lobbying is unethical, it doesn't matter whether you're at the top of the list or the middle.

As for "stealing verticals' content", what's the difference between Google and all the Deep Web search engines?  What is allowable as indexed content, and what is prohibited?  I suspect that part of the outcome will have implications for years to come, with Google being the least affected in the long run.

Personally I wouldn't mind if the final outcome from all that were that robots.txt became a legally enforced protocol.  But oh that's one giant can of worms to open....

Lobbying ? This forum is probably not suitable to conclude whether it's ethical or unethical. Generally speaking, they are used for addressing controversial issues like privacy and DRM. The more you dwell in these areas, the more you need to defend your position. If a company doesn't need to spend much in lobbying for these areas, it's probably because it steers clear from these issues. e.g., I still don't understand why Google feels that it could ignore do-not-track user policies, and want to fight it.

Whether copying vertical contents is alright, that's not for Google to decide. When Yelp, the owner, requests Google to stop using/scrapping their content, they should just follow strictly. Yelp should not have to scream at FTC to enforce this simple request. Google is clearly at fault here.

The thing is Google has already benefited from Yelp's scrapping for so long, and Yelp has potentially suffered the consequences. Yet FTC does not stipulate any compensation for Yelp. The settlement seems unfair to these victims. I wonder if these verticals will try to get back at Google now that it has acknowledged the wrongdoing.

Robot.txt or whatever are just low level tech issues/excuses. It must not be used as an excuse to harm vertical content providers.
Edited by patsu - 1/3/13 at 5:55pm
post #37 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Florian Mueller has come to the same conclusion that when this situation comes up again for Apple or other potential SEP-licensees they will have to accept the court's royalty determination or that of an arbitrator without qualification (ie, we'll accept it only if it's less than a dollar) or be deemed an "unwilling licensee". IMO the FTC does look to have made a fair agreement that both draws a line for Google while putting SEP-infringers on notice that it's not a one-way street. There has to be honest negotiations by SEP-licensees or injunctions are back on the table per the settlement.

 

At the same time someone had to make a clear rule on just what it would take to be deemed "unwilling to take a license". Product injunctions, particularly at the ITC, should not be available so freely for minor or honestly disputed infringement of software claims. That applies doubly so for essential IP where injunctions should almost never be available as a cure.

 

So I guess Google/Motorola can just reinstate the licences of the patents paid by the makers of chips sold to Apple and Microsoft, as they were doing before making extortionate demands?

 

btw the cases are still ongoing, this doesn't change much, just shows that Apple and Microsoft were in the right to dispute what Google was attempting to do.

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post #38 of 72

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Edited by MacRulez - 5/16/13 at 12:14pm
post #39 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

In general I agree that all content should be similarly protectable, and if Yelp doesn't want to be included in the Google SERPs that's their right.

But is it just Yelp, or other verticals?  And will Yelp complain when Google reduces their indexing to just Yelp's front page?

This is where robots.txt comes in, but it's not enforced and there is no equivalent for APIs.

This is why I don't think we've heard the last of that issue quite yet.  It's going to have to evolve, and will ultimately affect all search engines.

Since the dawn of search engine, many premium content providers have already complained about search engine undermining them. So it can't be just Yelp. Citing robot.txt limitations may be irrelevant because a suitable technology can always be invented to honor the arrangement.

Yelp and others may talk to FTC about their follow up resolution with Google regarding past offenses. It seems that earlier on, Google scrapped Yelp info to use in its own data set. This is already beyond search engine indexing. Google may already have benefited from Yelp's info.
Edited by patsu - 1/3/13 at 6:17pm
post #40 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by patsu View Post
Yelp and others may talk to FTC about their follow up resolution with Google regarding past offenses. It seems that earlier on, Google scrapped Yelp info to use in its own data set. This is already beyond search engine indexing.

According to the FTC, there are no offenses for Yelp to discuss with them. I'm quite sure that Microsoft, Yelp and whoever else had LOTS of conversations to make their cases with the FTC before today's press conference. 

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