Google could emerge unscathed from federal web search probe - WSJ

Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:24pm EST

Dec 16 (Reuters) - Google may not face any major repercussions from the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) two-year-old anti-trust investigation into its web search business, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The FTC might drop the investigation sometime this week based on voluntary changes Google will make to its search practices, rather than making the company sign a formal settlement called a consent decree, the Journal said. ()

The web search investigation examined whether Google tweaks its search results to disadvantage rivals in travel, shopping and other specialized searches.

Google will probably still be required to sign a consent decree for a separate federal investigation into the licensing of mobile-technology patents it acquired when it took over phone maker Motorola Mobility, the Journal said.

An end to the federal probe into Google's search business would allow the company to avoid getting mired in anti-trust investigations like rival Microsoft Corp endured in the early 2000s.

The European Commission, which is also probing Google, is expected to announce a decision next month.

The FTC declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal and could not be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular business hours. Google could not be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular business hours.