Wright Comments on Google Antitrust Probe

Professor Joshua Wright expects the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to focus on potential harm to consumers, rather than Google's competitors, in its antitrust investigation of that firm.

Interviewed for an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, Wright said, "I don't believe the antitrust laws of the United States obligate Google, or rather entitle any of Google's rivals, to specific, prominent listings."

In a case that may be the biggest antitrust probe since the investigation of Microsoft, Google could be forced to spend years defending itself in the FTC's investigation of whether the company is using its position as an Internet search engine to subdue rivals in competing markets.

Google Antitrust Probe Could Mean Years of Self-Defense, Bloomberg Businessweek, June 13, 2011. By Susan Decker.
"The investigation also may involve the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, which would look at whether Google deceived Internet users by skewing search results to favor its own services, Melissa Maxman, the Washington-based co-chair of the antitrust practice group at Cozen O'Connor, said in an interview.

"Maxman said she'd be 'shocked' if the consumer protection unit wasn't involved.

"The FTC should examine whether Google doctored search results to 'raise the cost of Google's rivals, raise their advertising costs, raise their development or operating costs,' said FTC official Melanie Sabo, who is likely to play a leading role in a Google probe, at a panel discussion in December.

"The FTC may also want to know if Google tried 'to decrease the number of eyeballs' viewing competitors' websites, said Sabo, assistant director for the FTC's anticompetitive practices division. Sabo said at the time she was speaking for herself and not the agency."

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