Google and the Justice Department are exploring whether a licensing deal prohibiting the search engine from harming the competition will make Google's bid for ITA Software work.
Google and the
Justice Department are discussing ways to resolve a potential antitrust lawsuit
regarding the search engine's $700 million offer for ITA Software, according
the published reports.
The Wall Street Journal
said the DOJ has tabled a compulsory
licensing arrangement that would prevent Google from blocking competitors' access
to ITA's flight fare and scheduling data.
Google in July
agreed to acquire
ITA, whose software powers 65
percent of flight bookings for airlines via the Web. Google said it wants to use
ITA's data to beef up travel-search results on Google.com.
The DOJ began scrutinizing
the deal last August and has been
negotiating with Google for a resolution.
including Expedia, Kayak.com and others opposed the acquisition by forming the
FairSearch.org coalition, an organized front to ask the DOJ to block the deal.
companies contend the acquisition would give Google too much sway over online
travel, including the right to jack up the existing fees they pay for ITA's data,
if not block them from accessing it outright.
repeatedly said it would honor existing ITA contracts and negotiate new deals
when they run their course.
looks as though the DOJ is more comfortable with making Google live up to its
promise of offering fairly priced deals in a formalized consent decree,
according to the Journal.
has apparently argued any valuable innovations it creates after buying ITA
shouldn't be made available to other companies such as Microsoft, whose Bing
search engine uses ITA data to provide flight info.
Google, which invoked
a provision of federal law that forces
the government to decide within 30 days whether to challenge the deal, remains
hopeful that a deal will get done. A Google spokesperson told eWEEK: "We're
excited to inject more choice for consumers into the online travel space, and
while we continue to cooperate with the Justice Department's review, we are
ultimately confident that this acquisition will increase competition."
FairSearch.org coalition doubts compulsory licensing will suffice.
Google commits in a court order to license the best flight-search technology,
serious concerns would remain about the ability to administer and enforce such
an order, and the potential for Google to circumvent it without
detection," FairSearch.org told eWEEK.
FairSearch.org still wants the DOJ to block the deal, forcing Google to build
its own travel-search technology.