Talks between the Federal Trade Commission and Google (GOOG) to negotiate the terms for ending the agency's antitrust investigation seem to be going Google's way, according to two people who have been briefed on the discussions.
A key issue in the talks -- accusations of search bias by Google -- has been taken off the table, said the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
As the negotiations now stand, Google would make a set of voluntary commitments. In addition, it would be sued and sign a consent decree, agreeing to license patents deemed essential for wireless communications on reasonable terms.
But the patent issue is a late entrant to the case. Subpoenas that the FTC staff began sending to Internet companies last year laid out a wide-ranging investigation focusing on Google's conduct in the search business.
The commission's decision on the Google investigation is expected within days. If the government scrutiny concludes without addressing the accusation that Google's search engine favors its own commerce services like shopping and local listings over rivals, it would represent a considerable narrowing of the ambitions of the original inquiry.
Politico reported Saturday that the talks had moved away from search.
Google, according to the two people, has agreed to voluntarily refrain from copying summaries of product and restaurant reviews from other websites and including them in Google search results, a practice known as "screen scraping."
Google is also under investigation by the European Commission, which this year listed accusations of search bias as the first of four areas of Google's conduct that it was investigating.