Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz is apparently turning up the heat on Google. Bloomberg cites two sources, which say Leibowitz is pressuring the online search giant to make a settlement offer in the FTC’s antitrust investigation this week. If Google executives don’t make an effort to settle soon, the FTC will likely file a formal complaint.
Bloomberg reports that the FTC and Google have been in negotiations over the issue for approximately two weeks, but Google has not suggested a solution yet. The agency has been looking into Google’s practices for more than 18 months, after numerous complaints that it unfairly uses its dominance in the market to rank search results for its own services, more highly than it does those of its competitors.
In addition the search engine is also accused of forging exclusive search service agreements with online publishers and attempting to make it too difficult for advertisers running campaigns on rival search engines, like Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Bing, to compare data among the sites. Google also faces allegations of abuse of the patent system, especially in relation to smartphone market competition. FTC investigators say Google has been misusing patent protections in a way that prevents smartphones developed by its rivals from coming into the market.
The FTC has already told the search engine giant that the only resolution that will be accepted is a consent decree. The agency also says it’s ready to take some sort of action within the next two weeks. Google responded to Bloomberg’s story by simply saying that it’s negotiating with the FTC and willing to answer questions about the antitrust investigation.
The next few weeks may well prove interesting for the case, as Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is not going to take such accusations lying down. We will have to wait and see what the final outcome is, though no doubt, the government will win this battle.