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back to article FTC clears Google in anticompetitive probe

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it is ending all investigations into Google, clearing the search giant of bias in its results and doing a deal that will see key mobile patents licensed out to the rest of the industry. "The changes Google has agreed to make will ensure that consumers continue to reap the …

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Off the hook...

But for how much longer?

I suspect this is barely the beginning of Google's anti-trust troubles.

Grab the popcorn, the next few years are going to be hysterically amusing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Off the hook...

Let's play wank word bingo

House !

"Grab the popcorn"

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Stop

Re: Off the hook...

Let's play Anonymous Troll Bingo

House!

"wank"

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Silver badge
Meh

Of course

They are in the clear, the algorithms they use are so complex and convoluted that they baffled the investigators, most of whom were turned down for jobs by Google for not being clever enough.

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Windows

Re: Off the hook...

Go Bing.

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Re: Off the hook...

Not as Hysterical as Microsoft moaning about Google. Gets popcorn,

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Of course

the algorithms they use are so complex and convoluted that they also employ a small army of real people to do the work too

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Stop

Re: Off the hook...

Bring the popcorn indeed, it's likely to end up badly for Microsoft:

Most countries, Microsoft would have been in the dock over shenanigans like this...

http://paidcontent.org/2011/11/15/419-the-story-behind-shopcity-and-its-antitrust-complaint-against-google/

Surely THAT'S anti-trust and deceptive right there......

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Megaphone

Re: Off the hook...

KISS = Keep it simple keep it stupid. Lets write an automated computer test engine, and write test cases for the engine.

--TEST CASE 001--

google.co.uk - type kiss - count the number of co.uk listings, how many are top 10, 5, 3, or #1?

google.ie - type kiss - count the number of ie listings, how many are top 10, 5, 3, or #1?

google.ca - type kiss - count the number of ca listings, how many are top 10, 5, 3, or #1?

google.fr - type kiss - count the number of fr listings, how many are top 10, 5, 3, or #1?

google.de - type kiss - count the number of de listings, how many are top 10, 5, 3, or #1?

google.co.in - type kiss - count the number of co.in listings, how many are top 10, 5, 3, or #1?

--TEST CASE 002--

Prove that even if every person (100% population- 60,776,238), in the UK, visited a UK website for a given keyword, but then in the USA just as many people (60,776,238 from 301,139,947 = 20%) visited a US website for the same keyword, who/what website should appear at the top of google.co.uk or google.ie? US website or UK website?

Now go forth and write many more test cases for the engine. Interpret the results, graph them, make generalisations, and share your research on online forums.

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Pint

The loss of their FRAND patent 'weapons' isn't going to save money or give them any useful defence!

"It's clear the $12.5bn Google paid for Motorola won't be reaping much in the way of licensing revenue, but the ending of legal actions over them will save Google some money and the IP will still be handy to defend other patent cases."

I'm not so sure this makes sense. Ending legal actions might save on the lawyer's bills, but these cases were mostly defensive actions (against MS and apple). With a large chunk of their defence stripped away they're going to be in a very weak position when it comes to negotiating any cross license - which is likely to cost them large amounts of money.

And the IP isn't going to be handy for defending anything now is it? Motorola's strongest patents were mostly FRAND encumbered, and now they've been slapped on the wrist and told to license them to anybody willing to take a FRAND license. So how are they going to defend anything with patents that they have to license for what amounts to loose change to these companies?

Anyway, good news for the whole industry. Samsung's turn on the barrel!

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Bronze badge

Re: The loss of their FRAND patent 'weapons' isn't going to save money or give them ...

I think the point is the patents are already FRAND so agreeing to let them be FRAND makes no difference.

They were already available for anyone to licence, the cost of licensing them can still be negotiated, but this agreement doesn't make any difference.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The loss of their FRAND patent 'weapons' isn't going to save money or give them ...

"I think the point is the patents are already FRAND so agreeing to let them be FRAND makes no difference.

They were already available for anyone to licence, the cost of licensing them can still be negotiated, but this agreement doesn't make any difference."

The difference is that Google refused to licence them on FRAND terms to Apple, got slaped about by the FTC and has now agreed to license them on FRAND terms globally to anyone who wants them, which includes Apple.

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Bronze badge

Re: The loss of their FRAND patent 'weapons' isn't going to save money or give them ...

"The difference is that Google refused to licence them on FRAND terms to Apple, got slaped about by the FTC and has now agreed to license them on FRAND terms globally to anyone who wants them, which includes Apple."

Er... they always allowed them to be licensed on FRAND terms by Apple. However Apple didn't want to negotiate the terms so asked a court to do it. No one got slapped about (or slaped). Whether the terms that Samsung was asking was too high is up to negotiation and possibly, now, the American courts. However if the rates for some of the other patents that are being asserted for (often invalid) patents are anything to go by there might not be a strong case.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The loss of their FRAND patent 'weapons' isn't going to save money...

If you read the FTC order, Google cannot seek injunctive relief if the other party is "willing" to accept a license, but it could still do so if the other party is "unwilling". It does not seem the FTC order clearly defines "willing" and "unwilling", so this will likely take courts time to sort out.

The FTC order also does not require Google to stop legal actions with regards to Apple and Microsoft. If Apple or Microsoft are using technology covered by valid Motorola standard-essential patents, then Google is entitled to a reasonable license fee and/or royalty. What Google can no longer do is use the threat of an injunction as a means to increase the value of a standard-essential patent during the negotiation process.

While Motorola has a very strong standards-based patent portfolio, I would have to believe they also have some strong regular patents that could be asserted. I always got the feeling that Motorola and Samsung used standard-essential patents because they needed an urgent defense, and it requires less effort to prove a product implementing a particular standard is infringing a standard-essential patent.

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Thumb Down

Dodgy logic

"...no one had formally complained about search bias, and that Google isn't doing anything on this front that other search engine provers aren't."

So if everyone is doing it, it must be OK?

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Facepalm

Re: Dodgy logic

"So if everyone is doing it, it must be OK?"

If everyone is doing it, it's not a monopoly.

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Meh

I'm not so sure that saying the (already FRAND) patents must be FRAND licensed really changes anything, and they are still probably a usable bargaining point in court along the lines of 'Look we're letting company X use our highly valuable technology patents freely, yet company X is being incredibly obstructive over a simple little UI matter.'

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Anonymous Coward

That wont be given any credence in court as all they are doing is following the agreaments they made. You don't get bonus point for following the law.

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Anonymous Coward

"... highly valuable technology patents..."

Having sat on several standards setting committees in my career, I suspect there are probably as many questionable technology patents included in industry standards as there are questionable design patents awarded to a certain fruity company. The problem is one type of patent can be worked around, while the other, by definition, cannot.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh big surprise, US court finds in favour of Apple...I mean Google, a US company.

Of course the EU won't let them off so easily.

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Good to see that all those millions that Google pours into lobbying DC—far beyond what Microsoft or Apple spend—is getting them results!

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i think it was a Moto lawyer who said that all it takes is one bullet to stop the opposition, he was referring to SEP's. Seems like the CEO of Moto got a very sweet deal out of Google in return for pretty much sweet FA.

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Anonymous Coward

Their little trip to North Korea didn't get unnoticed, so much for "don't be evil".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20903449

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I like the way you've waited to see the reason, duration, effectiveness of execution and outcomes of the visit before commenting.

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Linux

Do evil

Do evil.

Get caught.

Promise to do less evil.

Repeat as necessary

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Megaphone

Regional UK, NZ, AU, FR, DE, CA, IE, and other search results, what's happened?

Regional UK, NZ, AU, FR, DE, CA, IE, and other search results, have been changed.

Remember the home page used to have 2 radio buttons, one World Wide, the other radio button was for Regional UK, IE, CA, etc country specific searches. (they buried it deeper twice, and thought we would not notice)

Take a look at google.co.uk or google.ca,.

1) Where has "Search pages from Canada" gone? Yes deeply buried. (they buried it deeper twice)

2) Where has "Search pages from UK" gone, Yes deeply buried. (they buried it deeper twice)

3) Where has "Search pages from New Zealand" gone, Yes deeply buried. (they buried it deeper twice)

4) Where has "Search pages from Germany" gone, Yes deeply buried (they buried it deeper twice)

etc.... for every other country out there.

SiteLinks for top #1 ranking websites etc, or more than one link in the top 10 from the same domain name or sub domain name, is also anti-competitive and unfair. Why should they get even more real estate than the other top 9 sites, its already hard enough for #2 and number #3 sites to get traffic away from #1 and they are giving away more space. TO BE FAIR EACH SITE SHOULD GET THE SAME SPACE.

I agree with your comment.

"LarsG - They are in the clear, the algorithms they use are so complex and convoluted that they baffled the investigators, most of whom were turned down for jobs by Google for not being clever enough."

A top US based website gets way more traffic, because there's simply more people in the USA, so how is a poor French website going to compete on the same keyword? The answer is they can't, not unless seriously gifted mathematicians expose the google search engine bias. Why do they hate other countries?

I've got many years of pop-corn ready to watch and learn.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Regional UK, NZ, AU, FR, DE, CA, IE, and other search results, what's happened?

That poor French website can't be stopped to make a deal with Bing, Yahoo or, what the heck!, even writing their own search engine to show them in the #1 position.

To help you a little bit, Google started a search engine which crawls the web and indexes websites that allow to be indexed. Then Google does some little magic, and offers the results freely for those who want them on a web page. Nobody can prevent a web site to refuse to be indexed by Google and nobody is forcing a user the type www.google.com in their browser. Although there might be some monopolistic behavior in Google's actions, I have a hard time ti find a way in which consumers are being harmed. Remember, Google's competitors are only a click away.

Take my advice and enjoy your popcorn while it is fresh because there is nothing to be seen here.

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Childcatcher

Remember when...

Remember when search used to be about getting the results you wanted expediently?

When did it become a battle to be the first in a list of results - usefulness be damned?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Remember when...

You're damn right here, mate! When I'm searching for something I don't care if it is the 1st or 1000th. Actually I'm actively avoiding the first few results because most of the time they are economically motivated i.e. they paid (or gamed) Google to display them at the top of the list instead of offering me what I'm really looking for.

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