FTC reportedly readying subpoenas in antitrust investigation of Google

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is finalizing approval to issue subpoenas to Google in an imminent antitrust investigation of the company's bread-and-butter search and advertising business, according to a new report.



Two people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times on Thursday that the FTC is "preparing to issue subpoenas" to Google as part of a civil antitrust investigation into Google's search engine practices. The company's search and advertising business brings in most of the company's revenue, which reached $29.3 billion in 2010.



The commission's lawyers have been gathering information on Google's search and advertising operations for months and are particularly interested in whether Google's ordering of search results and related advertising constitutes "illegal anticompetitive behavior."



"This month, commissioners privately debated whether to authorize its Bureau of Competition to issue subpoenas to Google and are close to moving forward," the report read. Sources said a final decision regarding the subpoenas should come in a matter days, though they did note that the action is not yet final and could be postponed.



While federal agencies have scrutinized Google before, mostly over acquisitions of advertising-related companies such as AdMob, the impending investigation is said to be "wide-ranging" and could threaten the search giant's core business. ?This is the main act,? said antitrust expert Ted Henneberry, a former trial lawyer at the Justice Department and partner at Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe.



Though the FTC would not levy fines if Google were found guilty of anticompetitive actions, the company could issue cease-and-desist orders and file a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against certain practices, the report noted. The commission shares jurisdiction over antitrust cases with the Department of Justice.



Google's opponents have called for an antitrust investigation into Google's search sector for some time. Responding to reports of an imminent investigation, FairSearch.org, which represents companies such as Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak and Microsoft that have objected to Google's actions, applauded the news.



"Google engages in anticompetitive behavior across many vertical categories of search that harms consumers,? the organization said in a statement. ?The result of Google?s anticompetitive practices is to curb innovation and investment in new technologies by other companies.?



As of May, the company had a 65.5 percent share of the U.S. search market, compared to 16 percent for Yahoo and 14 percent for Microsoft's Bing.



The European Commission initiated a similar antitrust investigation into Google's search practices last year after complaints from small businesses. The case is still pending.



For its part, Apple has found itself in fierce competition with Google in the mobile advertising market. The iPhone maker attempted to purchase AdMob in 2009, but was outmaneuvered by its rival. It has been suggested that Google willingly overpaid for AdMob to keep it away from Apple.



The FTC investigated the AdMob deal, but approved it partly because of the emergence of Apple's iAd venture, which was made possible through the purchase of Quattro Wireless.



Apple announced the iAd program in April of last year. The platform attracted several big-name brands initially, but recent reports have suggested the program is "hurting" for advertisers.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    Google should just say "We're not evil" and hope the antitrust litigators buy their story.
  • Reply 2 of 29
    chrispoechrispoe Posts: 79member
    I thought this site was Appleinsider, not Googleinsider
  • Reply 3 of 29
    guch20guch20 Posts: 173member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Chrispoe View Post


    I thought this site was Appleinsider, not Googleinsider



    And what happens to Google (or any other competitor) affects Apple.
  • Reply 4 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Chrispoe View Post


    I thought this site was Appleinsider, not Googleinsider



    Thats the first thing I thought when I saw the headline.

    Been enjoying AI for a few years now but the quality of the stories is dropping as the number increases. More isn't always better. It may make financial sense but it just ends up being a bit dull.

    Sorry, rant over.
  • Reply 5 of 29
    Ahh, the bleedingly obvious and yet it has taken so long. But as the Microsoft example has shown before it'll be business as usual.
  • Reply 6 of 29
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,578member
    Last week, I think it was, we learned that the Feds had no problem with Google bidding on the Nortel patents. Now it turns out they are looking into Google for antitrust issues related to search and advertising. Makes you wonder if they realize that these Googles are the same company.
  • Reply 7 of 29
    diddydiddy Posts: 282member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    Last week, I think it was, we learned that the Feds had no problem with Google bidding on the Nortel patents. Now it turns out they are looking into Google for antitrust issues related to search and advertising. Makes you wonder if they realize that these Googles are the same company.



    Or they realize that the companies have different divisions and that the patent purchases (Nortel is a telecom tech company) has nothing to do with Google's search operations. They aren't connected.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Chrispoe View Post


    I thought this site was Appleinsider, not Googleinsider



    given that Google is a direct competitor in the smartphone and mobile ad spaces and a service partner in search and mapping, how WOULDN'T this be relevant?



    Or is the fact that it is not completely and myopically Apple centric the reason for the concern.



    Besides, it's probably a slow news day
  • Reply 9 of 29
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by diddy View Post


    Or they realize that the companies have different divisions and that the patent purchases (Nortel is a telecom tech company) has nothing to do with Google's search operations. They aren't connected.



    They're loosely connected since Google's mobile platform ties consumers to Google's search system and developers to Google's mobile Ads system. At this point we're still at early days in the anti-trust process though, and Google has a certain amount of leeway.



    Not that I think Google should have been stopped from bidding, I think the patents are fine. If the FTC want to open up the mobile market to different search and ad providers they should simply require Android to search configurable on the handset and ad-serving configurable by the developers.
  • Reply 10 of 29
    dmarcootdmarcoot Posts: 191member
    There's "Open" and then there?s Open. I?ll Take Apples curated and proprietary iOS platform over Google?s curated and proprietary search results any day.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    joseph ljoseph l Posts: 197member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Chrispoe View Post


    I thought this site was Appleinsider, not Googleinsider



    Google is trying as best as it can to kill the iPhone. If we can kill them first then the iPhone is safe.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    joseph ljoseph l Posts: 197member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    Last week, I think it was, we learned that the Feds had no problem with Google bidding on the Nortel patents. Now it turns out they are looking into Google for antitrust issues related to search and advertising. Makes you wonder if they realize that these Googles are the same company.



    It doesn't make me wonder that.



    However, I suspect that you don't realize that these Feds are from totally different agencies.



    Each has its own mandate and rules and tools. Each has to do a different job in a different sphere.
  • Reply 13 of 29
    diddydiddy Posts: 282member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post


    They're loosely connected since Google's mobile platform ties consumers to Google's search system and developers to Google's mobile Ads system. At this point we're still at early days in the anti-trust process though, and Google has a certain amount of leeway. .



    We're talking about different divisions and members of the government looking at different parts of a large and complicated company. It doesn't matter what ties each division of Google has with each other, the government is looking at two different and unrelated matters. Furthermore "the government" is not one thing. It is a complex organization that doesn't operate the way seem to imply. Google is a large complex company and they can treat each division differently. Especially when we are talking about different aspects of law.



    Just because Google uses search in Android or Chrome for example has nothing to do with Nortel's patent library. They aren't connected like that in the government's eyes.
  • Reply 14 of 29
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by diddy View Post


    Just because Google uses search in Android or Chrome for example has nothing to do with Nortel's patent library. They aren't connected like that in the government's eyes.



    Well possibly they're not being viewed as connected currently by the divisions in question, that's not the same thing as them not being connected. Also you have to remember that while there are complaints against Google in the search market nothing has actually been proven yet. Should Google suffer a significant loss then it's entirely possible that the FTC would start to connect them in a future hypothetical auction.
  • Reply 15 of 29
    joseph ljoseph l Posts: 197member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post


    Should Google suffer a significant loss then it's entirely possible that the FTC would start to connect them in a future hypothetical auction.



    Given that Google's master plan is to kill the iPhone, I would think that the FTC would realize that Google is trying to be anticompetative. If they get those patents, they will use them to finally kill the iPhone and that is a violation of law.



    It is entirely possible that the FTC will start to connect them. Google should have been banned from the auction.
  • Reply 16 of 29
    jexusjexus Posts: 373member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joseph L View Post


    Given that Google's master plan is to kill the iPhone, I would think that the FTC would realize that Google is trying to be anticompetative. If they get those patents, they will use them to finally kill the iPhone and that is a violation of law.



    *facepalm*



    Google DOES NOT WANT to kill the iPhone. It is an incredibly large amount of ad revenue heading into their pockets...THINK before you speak.



    Google deployed Android for 2 reasons.



    1. Ad revenue

    2. Believe it or not..there exists a group of people who *gasp* don't wan't an iphone, because they believe that they should be able to control the appliance/phone/ect.. they paid for.



    Lastly Google is not Apple. Google will not launch some insane blitzkrieg on Apple, Nokia, or RIM to bring them down, Google wants protection not absolute rule. Considering the options if Apple doesn't win, Google would probably be the nicest in terms of any fees. Because Nokia and RIM will most likely strike back at apple in full force with these.
  • Reply 17 of 29
    Antitrust against Google? They are just going to delete their 'cache' evidence and employ some more lobbyist and it will be swept under the carpet soon enough.
  • Reply 18 of 29
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jexus View Post


    Google deployed Android for 2 reasons.



    1. Ad revenue

    2. Believe it or not..there exists a group of people who *gasp* don't wan't an iphone, because they believe that they should be able to control the appliance/phone/ect.. they paid for.



    I'd add that they didn't want to risk MS getting significant traction, and that have to pay considerable fees to Apple to keep their exclusive on search within safari - which Android obviously helps them reduce.



    Quote:

    Google wants protection not absolute rule.



    Skyhook might not agree with you on that. Google are as capable of playing hardball as anybody.
  • Reply 19 of 29
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,116member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jexus View Post




    Lastly Google is not Apple. Google will not launch some insane blitzkrieg on Apple, Nokia, or RIM to bring them down, Google wants protection not absolute rule. Considering the options if Apple doesn't win, Google would probably be the nicest in terms of any fees. Because Nokia and RIM will most likely strike back at apple in full force with these.



    Apple did not launch some insane blitzkrieg on Nokia, Moto, RIM... In Nokia's and Moto's case, they launched first.



    Google is no Saint. Apple is no Saint. Nokia is no Saint. They are all companies trying to maximize profits at the expense of their competition.
  • Reply 20 of 29
    joseph ljoseph l Posts: 197member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post


    Google is no Saint. Apple is no Saint. Nokia is no Saint.



    I disagree WRT Steve.
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