Microsoft vents over FTC Google antitrust ruling

Microsoft vents over FTC Google antitrust ruling

Summary: The tech giant isn't best pleased with the FTC's decision concerning complaints over Google's "anti-competitive" business practices.

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Microsoft isn't best pleased with the FTC's decision concerning Google's "anti-competitive" business practices, and has released its frustration by means of a lengthy complaint.

After an investigation conducted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegations of anticompetitive behavior, Google was handed a list of changes the firm must make to its business practices, especially when it comes down to search protocols.

In a 4-1 vote, the FTC decided that the search engine giant must change a number of its current business strategies, of which the FTC will "vigorously monitor." The FTC has ordered Google to stop using patents that related to "standardized technologies" purchased through its acquisition of Motorola Mobility to hamper competition, and they must now be offered on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

In addition, Google must stop "scraping" the content of rival companies to better its own search results, and businesses should now be able to opt-out of Google products including Shopping without being penalized in search engine rankings as a result. Another area of concern for competitors who made the original complaints -- including Microsoft -- were the limitations placed on AdWords, which made it different for campaigners to coordinate campaigns. Google has now agreed to remove these restrictions.

Dave Heiner, however, isn't happy with such a ruling.

In a blog post on Thursday, the Vice President & Deputy General Counsel at Microsoft drew up a lengthy complaint, calling the FTC's decision a "missed opportunity" as well as questioning the commission's investigative practices:

"The FTC took steps today to address some of Google's improper business practices. We find it troubling that the agency did not adhere to its own standard procedures that call for the agency to obtain industry input on proposed relief and secure it through an enforceable consent decree. The FTC's overall resolution of this matter is weak and -- frankly -- unusual. We are concerned that the FTC may not have obtained adequate relief even on the few subjects that Google has agreed to address."

Heiner recognizes that the FTC concluded Google's patent system has to change, saying that the California-based firm has not "lived up to its promises," and furthermore, has blocked not only Microsoft from shipping products with the relevant patent standards, but has also used their portfolio to hamper smaller firms -- but implies it did not go far enough.

He says that Google "can continue to threaten that it will sue for an injunction" and the firm has been given "leeway to sue for an injunction on its standard essential patents" due to the ruling. In addition, Heiner believes that since it is often difficult to tell which patents are standard essential, the risk of injunction may "dissuade firms from seeking to enforce their non-standard essential patents against the company."

This isn't the only issue Heiner wants to hammer home, as he then questions search bias issues:

"Google has long said that it merely aims to offer customers the most relevant answer to their query, and the FTC Commissioners accepted that view. Yet we know that Google routinely and systematically heavily promotes its own services in search results. Is Google+ really more relevant than Facebook? Are Google’s travel results better than those offered by Expedia, Kayak and others?"

Another complaint Heiner has is the spin that Google have placed on the ruling. In post on Google's official blog, the company wrote (emphasis mine):

"The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today announced it has closed its investigation into Google after an exhaustive 19-month review that covered millions of pages of documents and involved many hours of testimony. The conclusion is clear: Google's services are good for users and good for competition."

Heiner's response?

"In other words, there appears to be no reason, despite the FTC's optimistic statements this morning, to believe that Google recognizes its responsibilities as an industry leader. That is certainly consistent with the lack of change we continue to witness as we and so many others experience ongoing harm to competition in the marketplace."

In addition, Heiner says the company is "disappointed" the FTC chose not to "seek relief" on other issues, such as providing a high quality YouTube Windows Phone app, or tackling the issue of exclusivity rights and advertising contracts on other websites. Instead of pursuing the matter, Microsoft believes that the commission has "depriving American consumers of benefits that appear on the horizon in Europe."

Before the ruling was made public, Heiner wrote an additional blog post, resurrecting compatibility issues between Google's YouTube app and the Windows Phone.

Within the complaint, Heiner accused Google of impeding a competitive marketplace as well as restricting other firms by stonewalling its services -- specifically, well-known compatibility issues experienced by Windows Phone users through the YouTube application. By "refusing" to allow Windows Phone users to have the same features as Android or iOS smartphone users, Heiner argued that this was simply one more example of how Google's business practices demonstrated the firm's allegedly anti-competitive nature.

Topics: Microsoft, Google, Government US

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  • FTC decision is clearly biased and weak.

    Google with its web presence, has become a parasite everywhere and is stealing stuff from everybody else. Its a shame that FTC failed to act.
    Owlll1net
    • And

      I disagree
      Doug0915
      • MS is a Joke!!

        MS using these same tactics killed its competition in a more blatant manner. Examples are:

        VisiCalc
        Quattro
        WordPerfect
        Novel
        Netscape

        The list is endless. In it's latest attempt we have xslx, doc, files and exchange.

        MS should shut up and lead by example, otherwise it has no leg to stand on.
        Uralbas
        • Wow

          Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
          ......http://goo.gl/3N8L9

          Happy New Year!
          JesseTyler
        • Uralbas....I agree 100% ....MS should shut up

          After all the underhanded tatics M$ used to squash it competitors.......now they're whinning like stuck pigs when someone finally does it to them...........just love it
          Over and Out
          • interesting logic

            By that logic, if the pro sports team you hate does something against the rules during the game, then they deserve to be penalized for it...but if the team you *love* does the same thing, then it's OK because they're "your" team?

            Sorry, but rules are rules, & should apply *equally* to everyone. Doesn't matter what MS did in the past, it's what the other company (Google) is doing now.
            spdragoo@...
        • No of course they didn't. MS never promised FRAND

          to get ip into a standard and then renegged. This FTC farce was bought and paid for by Google buying Obamas reelection. Go look up how many times Eric Schimdt has been to the white house and put on his kneepads for Obama
          Johnny Vegas
          • Time to put on your tinfoil hat!

            Obama is actually an alien!!!
            radleym
        • wow

          They're still stopping Netscape? Here I thought that died a while back. Silly me.
          Michael Alan Goff
        • This is *SO* a case of...

          ... the M$ pot calling the Google kettle bl... -- charcoal. :-/
          Robynsveil
    • Ahhhh, poor owlnet

      You sound almost as sad as your boss did in his complaint.

      Still, at least you'll be recognised for your commitment to the cause, spreading FUD and lies wherever you go with your halfbaked arguments and baseless claims.

      We get it, you disagree with the FTC - does anyone care? No, you and I both know it. Now stop whining, it's getting boring. We know you have far greater capacity for understanding and fixing the 'google situation' than the FTC, but honestly, we just don't care.
      Little Old Man
      • Ahhh lilolmen

        Nobody cares what you think either. Your baseless claim that Owlnets claims are also baseless equates to one big fart in the wind.
        mrefuman
        • You cared enough to comment?

          How sweet. Hope you like the smell.
          Little Old Man
        • Clearly...

          ..."Little Old Man" cares what he thinks, making your statement a lie (like most statements that include the word "nobody").
          John L. Ries
      • He cares

        And others who disagree with the decision probably care as well.
        John L. Ries
    • Clearly

      The FTC should have had the Google exec team lined up against the wall and shot. Their remains should then be hung from the parapets of 1 Microsoft Way as a warning to all who get in their way.

      Or, one could bang on at length as to why you're not... Well, I'll leave it at that as I need a happy and somewhat useful Friday evening.
      ego.sum.stig
  • IRONIC

    Wasn't it Microsoft that started the whole anti-competitiveness with blocking google, netscape, et al.....when windows 95 and windows 98 came out? The very person they would block from an included browser selection on their OS, has grown up and is doing the same thing the father did to them. I have absolutely no sympathy for Microsoft.

    I am in no way a fan of Google, especially when they steal your personal information and sell it to big companies. But, you have to laugh at this one. The father of internet browsers is crying foul for the very company it used to block.....shoving Microsoft to the bottom of the line. Humbling isn't it, when your no longer the big fish Microsoft. Karma is a witch.
    jaybigness
    • Google didn't exist...

      when Windows 95 came out.
      kstap
    • Not to mention

      How Microsoft is picking up some nice change from companies selling Android-based devices thanks to some dubious patent claims and threats.
      JustCallMeBC
      • Your argument is dubious

        If the patent claims are dubious, why doesn't somebody fight them?

        Our patent system is a mess, but Microsoft is just playing by the same rules that everyone else is playing by. And they are not seeking injunctive relief, just FRAND compensation.
        FDanconia