Google ducks Feds' punishment In a major victory for the world's largest search engine, Google has reached a settlement in a nearly two-year antitrust probe by the Federal Trade Commission that leaves largely unchanged the way the company presents competitors' Web pages in its search results. The settlement, announced Thursday, came as part of a dual FTC investigation examining allegations - brought mostly by competitors - that Google was unfairly tampering with search results to benefit its own properties. The decision was a major setback for such Google rivals as Travelocity and Microsoft that said the Mountain View company was manipulating its search to gain an unfair advantage in search results. While advocacy groups and competitors voiced their disdain for the decision Thursday, Google chief legal counsel David Drummond wrote on the company website, The conclusion is clear: Carl Shapiro, a professor of business at UC Berkeley and a former deputy assistant attorney general in the antitrust division of the Justice Department, added, "Google got the imprimatur of the Federal Trade Commission that what they are doing is totally legitimate." Vince Sollitto, a spokesman for Yelp, one of many Web businesses that have been critical of Google's practices, called the FTC's closure of the investigation "a missed opportunity to protect innovation in the Internet economy, and the consumers and businesses that rely upon it."