By Brendan Sasso - 01/04/13 06:51 PM EST
In a unanimous decision, the FTC took no action on the most significant issue in its investigation: whether Google manipulates its search results to promote its own services and demote competitors'.
Google voluntarily agreed to remove restrictions on the use of its search-advertising platform, and to refrain from using rivals' content in specialized search results without their permission.
"Along with the FTC, our subcommittee will seek to make certain that Google abides by these common-sense commitments," Lee said.
As part of a separate investigation, the FTC concluded in a 4-1 vote that Google had abused its industry-standard patents and been overly aggressive in suing competitors.
The patents, which Google acquired when it purchased Motorola Mobility, cover technologies that companies across the industry use so that wireless devices can communicate with each other. Motorola had promised to license the patents on fair and reasonable terms.
Google agreed to a binding order that requires the company to go through third-party mediation before it can sue competitors over their use of the technologies.
Lee said he is committed to "helping ensure that standard-essential patents are not abused in an anticompetitive manner."
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he is "disappointed" that the FTC allowed Google to make voluntary commitments instead of pushing for a binding legal order.
But not all lawmakers were critical of the decision. Silicon Valley Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D) and Anna Eshoo (D) said the commission struck the right balance.
“I’m pleased the FTC chose to complete its investigation of Google’s search practices with an enforceable agreement to protect consumers without impermissibly expanding the jurisdictional reach of the FTC,” Lofgren said.
Eshoo applauded the FTC decision not to pursue charges over search bias, saying a lawsuit could "hinder innovation and consumer choice."