The deals close the FTC’s nearly 20-month investigations and fall into two categories. In the first case, Google says it will no longer try to block other providers of wireless devices including smartphones from using patents that the search giant acquired last year when it paid $12.5B for Motorola Mobility. “These essential patents and others like them are the cornerstone of the system of interoperability standards that ensure that wireless internet devices and mobile phones can talk to one another,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz says. “Over half of American consumers own and use one of these devices — including iPhones, Android phones and Xboxes.” Google agreed to drop injunctions, and license its patents to any company on what the FTC calls “fair and reasonable terms.” In a separate case, Google agreed to stop taking and misidentifying content from rival content companies. For example Leibowitz says that Google took user-generated restaurant reviews on Yelp “and led consumers to believe that these reviews were its own.” When the content owners complained, he adds, “Google allegedly threatened to remove them entirely from Google’s search results.” As part of its deal with the FTC, Google also agreed to remove restrictions that made it hard for advertisers that use its AdWords service from coordinating campaigns on other platforms. Although today’s agreements resolve the FTC’s concerns, the European Union and state attorneys general also are investigating possible anti-trust problems with Google’s practices.
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