FTC staff reportedly recommends antitrust lawsuit against Google

The agency has been investigating claims that the company unfairly disadvantaged competitors in search results and refused to license essential patent technology

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will reportedly recommend that the U.S. government sue Google Inc. for violations of antitrust law.

Google stands accused of a host of anti-competitive practices, including charges that it attempted to keep competitors from using certain smartphone patents. Under antitrust law, holders of “standard essential patents”—patents that are central to developing industry-standard products—must license those patents on fair and reasonable terms. But Google has reportedly run afoul of the FTC by attempting to stop U.S. imports of Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. products, on the grounds that the devices infringe patents held by Google-owned Motorola Mobility.

Other companies have also accused Google of intentionally pushing competitors’ websites to the bottom of its search results, to better promote its own travel, entertainment and shopping services.

In an interview with Bloomberg Government’s “Capitol Gains” last month, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz suggested that the agency was “open” to a settlement in the case, although he would not say at the time whether Google would face charges.

According to Reuters, Google would not comment on reports of an impending suit, saying only “we take our commitments to license on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms very seriously.”

The search engine company has faced the FTC’s wrath before. In July, it reportedly paid $22.5 million to settle charges that it bypassed settings on Apple Inc.’s Safari browser.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of Google, see:

Rosetta Stone, Google settle trademark infringement suit

French racism suit against Google dropped

Google, publishers agree to e-book settlement

“Innocence of Muslims” actress sues filmmaker and Google

FTC approves $22.5 million fine in Google privacy case


Alanna Byrne

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