After an 18-month investigation into Google's business practices, the Federal Trade Commission is nearing a critical decision on allegations that the Internet giant has unfairly tweaked its popular search engine to tout some of its online services over those of competing firms.
The outcome, however, is far from certain.
Depending on what antitrust regulators have found, experts say, the commission might pursue legal action that could lead to a massive, epic and expensive court trial. In theory, the FTC could try to force Google to sell or close parts of its business or cough up millions in past profits. Or regulators might negotiate a less drastic settlement, such as an agreement that obliges Google to change the way it labels search results.