The DOJ is reportedly drafting a lawsuit to block Google's $700 million bid for ITA Software. This is good news for the FairSearch.org group, which wants the deal nixed.
million acquisition of ITA Software may be halted by the U.S. Justice
Department, which is reportedly preparing for a possible antitrust lawsuit to
put the kibosh on the deal.
helps airlines, search engines and online travel companies organize flight
information, including flight times, availability and prices.
familiar with the matter told Bloomberg
that the Justice Department has
yet to decide whether to bless or block the deal, which would give Google
access to data to improve its air travel and fare-search results.
Street Journal said
the DOJ could decide whether to bless or
block the deal this month or in February.
engine triggered preparation for the government's possible lawsuit last month
by invoking a provision of federal law that forces the government to decide
within 30 days whether to challenge the deal.
Such a move is
common in the industry where companies fear regulatory scrutiny is not moving
quickly enough. Google bid to buy ITA
last July 1, and the DOJ filed a second request
for information about the deal in
wheel-greasing for the deal was slowed in October, when Expedia, Sabre
Holdings, Kayak, Farelogix and their associated brands formed
the FairSearch.org coalition to urge the
DOJ to stop Google's acquisition of ITA.
companies, most of which pay ITA to use its data for their own travel-search
services, fear that if Google gets ITA, it will become a travel-search
powerhouse that will cut off their access to the valuable ITA data, or jack up
fees to license the data.
promised to honor all existing agreements and continue to work with companies
if the deal is consummated.
about the DOJ's lawsuit preparation, a Google spokesperson said: "While we
continue to cooperate with the Justice Departments review, we are ultimately
confident that this acquisition will increase competition," a Google
spokesperson told eWEEK.
counsel to FairSearch.org member Expedia, told eWEEK:
respect that the Department of Justice is working hard to conduct a thorough
investigation. We remain very engaged in the process, and in our view, Google's
proposed acquisition of ITA presents a serious threat of harm to competition
and consumers. Combining Google's online search dominance with ITA's flight-search
dominance would position Google to undermine competition across the online
travel search industry."
Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich debated
the matter for CNN Dec. 29.
been down this regulatory road before. In 2008, the DOJ blocked Google's offer to
power search for Yahoo.
Google is also
currently facing opposition abroad by the European Commission, which is investigating
whether the company unfairly
positions its own Web services on Google.com above search results of smaller