The Federal Trade Commission is unlikely to finish until January its investigation into whether Google abused its power in the search market, people briefed on the investigation said on Tuesday.
The agency’s chairman, Jon Leibowitz, has consistently said that the commission was aiming to finish its inquiry by the end of 2012, and all signs have been pointing to an imminent settlement, including reports of a Google proposal to avoid formal punishment by promising to change some of its practices.
Two people who have been briefed on the investigation said that some commissioners had asked for more time to consider possible penalties after recent reports portrayed Google as having persuaded the F.T.C. to give the company little more than a slap on the wrist.
For almost two years, the F.T.C. has been studying whether Google’s dominant search engine intentionally produces search results that favor its own commerce and other services. Companies with competing search engines as well as commercial sites that specialize in airline ticket information or shopping have complained that Google has stifled competition by its actions.