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Google set to settle FTC antitrust probe, report says

The search giant will voluntarily change some of its business practices, which critics have called anti-competitive, Bloomberg reports.


Google is poised to settle the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's long-running antitrust investigation by agreeing to voluntarily change some of its business practices, Bloomberg reported today.

The FTC has been investigating a wide range of Google's business practices, focusing mostly on the way Google displays search results, which critics say favor the company's own services over those of its competitors. The U.S. trade agency has also been examining Google decisions on technology licensing, which some argue are anti-competitive.

As part of the settlement of the trade agency's 20-month probe, the search giant is agreeing to voluntarily change the way it uses other Web sites' data and to allow advertisers to export data, three sources told the news agency.

The Bloomberg report does not offer specifics in terms of Google's patent war chest, which the company had reportedly been ready to agree not to use to block the sale of products it believes infringe on its intellectual property. The alleged agreement would focus on what are known as standard essential patents, which cover technology used in technical standards.

It's unknown what effect the expected FTC settlement will have in Europe, where the search behemoth was also put under an antitrust spotlight in 2010 after rivals launched allegations of anti-competitive behavior. FTC Chairman Jon Liebowitz and European Union competition chief Joaquin Almunia reportedly met last month to discuss a range of cases, including Google's.

Representatives for Google and the FTC declined to comment on the reported settlement.