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Reports: Google May Resolve FTC Antitrust Probe This Week

Search engine giant Google Inc. (GOOG) might settle a 20-month antitrust probe by U.S. regulators this week, reports said Wednesday. Google may reach a voluntary agreement and a consent decree on its alleged misuse of patents.

The FTC and the European Commission launched parallel antitrust probes in mid-2010 into allegations from other search engines that Google abused its dominant position in online search market. Google is alleged to have manipulated search results to lower the ranking of competing services in its results, while putting its own products high up in search results in order to reap business.

The 20-month probe stemmed from complaints by search service providers about unfavorable treatment of their services in Google's unpaid and sponsored search results. The service providers also alleged that Google gave preferential placement to its own services.

The Federal Trade Commission may announce that Google has agreed to voluntarily change some of its business practices. The agency may also announce the technology company's settlement of allegations of misuse of patents to win an edge over competitors in smartphone technology.

The FTC is expected to close its probe on whether Google interferes with its search results to favor its own services without enforcement action. The regulator's decision not to take action could be a blow to Google's competitors such as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Yelp Inc. (YELP) and Expedia Inc. (EXPE).

Google is expected to make changes in the manner in which it uses content from other websites and allows advertisers to transfer data to other platforms.

It was reported last month that the FTC decision on the probe may be delayed until early 2013 as the regulator decided to examine whether Google's proposed voluntary changes are good for consumers.

In December 2012, the European Commission also decided to give Google a month to submit a detailed proposal on amicably resolving its parallel probe.

A Wall Street Journal report had said last month that Google is likely to emerge unscathed from the probe as it would agree to make some voluntary changes to its search practices.

GOOG added 2.2 percent on Wednesday to settle at $723.25.

by RTT Staff Writer

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