Behind Google’s Antitrust Escape

After early hopes for a sweeping antitrust case against Google Inc., it became clear to the Federal Trade Commission last fall that no such lawsuit was in the offing.

A clinching moment came in November when FTC staff, who had exhaustively investigated the Internet search giant for 18 months, told the five FTC commissioners that they shouldn’t bring a broad antitrust case, rebutting the theory that Google abused its dominant market position in Internet search to favor its own products and services at rivals’ expense.

Instead, in a series of packed meetings at room 432 of FTC headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., they recommended pursuing a series of smaller issues. That culminated Thursday in an announcement by the FTC that it wouldn’t bring sweeping charges against Google.

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