FTC Fires Back at Microsoft, et al. Regarding Google Antitrust Ruling
January 14, 2013 1:24 PM
comment(s) - last by
"We did what we’re paid to do and what the law requires", says Chairman in new interview
heavy criticism from Microsoft
), Yelp Inc. (
), and a slew of other online service firms, the
U.S. Federal Trade Commission
is firing back in a
Talking Points Memo
(TPM). In the interview, he defends the decision to
[PDF] with online search and services giant Google Inc. (
) which called for big changes, but allowed Google to avoid a full blown antitrust lawsuit brought by the federal government (which was the approach Microsoft,
I. FTC Claims That Its Google Ruling Was Fair
Responding to his critics, Chairman Leibowitz comments, "We did what we’re paid to do and what the law requires. We went after a company [Google] where the law required us to do so, and forwent bringing a case where the law required us not to bring one."
He points out that the decision was unanimously approved by the FTC's
, including Leibowitz. He remarks, "Under facts we found, all five of us, from liberal Democrat to conservative Republican, agreed that the evidence militated against an antitrust case. The fact that we managed to have both Google and Google’s rivals unhappy, in an odd way that’s maybe unique to Washington, that puts us in the right place substantively."
U.S. FTC Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz is defending his Commission's settlement with Google against critics like Microsoft. [Image Source: UPI]
He argues that the settlement is significant as it not only pushes Google to change certain search/data-mining practices its critics considered unfair, but it also pushes the company to pursue patent peace in the mobile space. The FTC voted 4-to-1 to adopt a settlement demand that forces Google to pursue arbitration with smartphone rivals, before taking them to court and eating up judicial resources.
Explains Chairman Leibowitz, "We took a pretty meaningful step forward to stop one of the most drastic abuses in patent litigation. [Google] won’t be able to engage in patent holdup, where the threat of an injunction is used as a 'Sword of Damocles.'"
He was pleased to note that Google had responded already,
withdrawing two key patent assertions
nearly finished legal battle against Microsoft
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
. The FTC did allow Google to sue in cases where a rival is
looking to ban its products
(so Google may be able to still pursue action against Apple, Inc. (
)), but the Chairman calls such applications "exceedingly limited defensive uses."
He argues that the FTC's approach is consistent with both Google and its rivals in the smartphone space, commenting, "We don’t want them [smartphone makers] to be able to get injunctions, and we prohibit that except in the one-in-a-million hypothetical. If someone makes a FRAND commitment and reneges, we will go after them."
II. Google Still Faces Antitrust Threats
In regards to media commentary that the settlement was a "win" for Google, he responds, "Reporters think of this in some ways as a horse race. [I]t’s really about doing the right thing. Perhaps to some extent we helped to build up expectations [by the
length of the probe
], but I also think complainants created great expectations of their own. I think that as time goes on, more and more people will recognize we did justice."
The Chairman also rejected the notion that the tens of millions of dollars that Google
poured into lobbying officials
in the federal government on both sides of the political aisle impacted the Commission's vote. He comments, "My sense is that the lobbying makes the companies feel good and lobbyists feel good. At the end of the day, whether you want to say lobbying had any influence, or canceled itself out because there was lobbying on both sides, if you’re going to do what lobbyists want you to do in a regulatory agency, you’re not doing your job."
The decisiveness of the ruling (5-0) may be enough to placate the
U.S. Department of Justice
(DOJ), but an FTC ruling does not necessarily preclude an antitrust lawsuit by the DOJ. For example, in 1991 the FTC probed Microsoft, in an investigation that wrapped up in 1993 with a deadlock -- 2-2 vote -- effectively closing the investigation. Despite that the DOJ would go on to independently investigate and sue Microsoft in a court battle that was considered a milestone in modern U.S. antitrust enforcement.
The EU says it won't go as easy on Google as the FTC did. [Image Source: AFP]
And meanwhile the EU has indicated it will be
in its settlement demands from Google.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: "We did what we’re paid to do..."
1/15/2013 11:12:07 AM
The allegation was that the APIs that were provided on MSDN weren't the same as the ones MS used "in house".
Basically they gave access to the slower APIs, so 3rd party developers couldn't make programs to compete with MSs own developed programs.
Or that's how I understand the allegation. Not sure if it's was actually true or not. You'll find firm believers in both camps although I'm not sure anything was every definitively proven.
RE: "We did what we’re paid to do..."
1/15/2013 4:51:26 PM
I don't think there were two APIs. I think what happened is that if a Microsoft coder was having problems implementing something via the regular APIs, having access to how the code behind the APIs worked made it easier for him to code around the problem.
In some cases this involved calls to "back door" functions - undocumented things which worked but weren't in the API. We had those at the software shop I worked at too. Some were bugs which weren't worth fixing because they provided some useful (albeit unintended) functionality. Others were undocumented features which were still in development or being tested. I'd find it difficult to believe Microsoft didn't have these too.
The story of a separate in-house API probably grew from that. I don't think there was anything particularly wrong with it - it's probably inevitable when writing software. But by the same token, I think that's why Microsoft should've been broken up into an OS company and an applications company - to prevent the applications side from having this unfair advantage over other companies writing Windows apps. That and the whole double-cross with OS/2 (telling software companies that OS/2 was successor to DOS, then after they'd committed to writing OS/2 versions of their apps, dumping it in favor of Windows while they worked on Office for Windows) left a really bad taste in my mouth at the time.
"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
EU Doesn't Plan to Go Easy on Google (Like the FTC)
January 11, 2013, 9:36 AM
Google Ditches Patent Claim Against Microsoft for Xbox Video Compression
January 9, 2013, 10:49 AM
Microsoft Shouts Antitrust Over YouTube Snub
January 3, 2013, 10:11 AM
Google, FTC Settle Antitrust Spat Without Any Fines
January 3, 2013, 12:57 PM
FTC Frustrates Google With Delay in Antitrust Probe Ruling
December 19, 2012, 11:04 AM
Netflix Announces 7-to-1 Stock Split, Eyes Explosive Overseas Growth
June 23, 2015, 8:18 PM
Sources: Hack on Fed. Database Lost 4.1M Social Security Numbers, Personal Info
June 11, 2015, 9:11 PM
The Big One: Chinese Hackers Steal Records of 4 Million U.S. Gov. Employees
June 4, 2015, 8:13 PM
Tutorial: Here's How to Force YouTube or Vimeo VIdeos to Embed as HTML5
June 3, 2015, 10:14 PM
Google Finally Fixes Maps Bug That Was Giving Racist, Profane Results
May 21, 2015, 1:43 PM
The Pirate Bay Loses Its Iconic Swedish Dot SE Domains
May 20, 2015, 6:31 PM
Most Popular Articles
SanDisk's 200GB microSDXC Card Turns Smartphones Into Enviable PMPs
June 26, 2015, 2:02 PM
Windows XP, Vista Users Can Get Free Windows 10 Upgrade Thanks to Loophole
June 23, 2015, 2:23 PM
U.S. Navy Spends $9M USD to Cling to Windows XP, Office 2003
June 24, 2015, 2:03 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
Under the Hood: Digging Into Sony's New CUH-1200 PS4, 1 TB Ultimate Player Ed.
June 23, 2015, 10:33 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information