DOJ Hires Antitrust Lawyer For Google/Yahoo Ad Deal

    September 9, 2008

The Justice Department has hired Sanford Litvack, former Walt Disney vice chairman and well known litigator to consult on its inquiry into Google’s search advertising deal with Yahoo.

The Justice Department told Google and Yahoo they were consulting with Litvack who was the department’s antitrust chief under U.S. President Jimmy Carter. No decision has been made on challenging the advertising deal, which would account for more than 80 percent of online search ads in the U.S.

Yahoo has expressed confidence that the Justice Department would conclude that the deal with Google was legal.

"We have been informed that the Justice Department, as they sometimes do, is seeking advice from an outside consultant, but that we should read nothing into that fact. We remain confident that the deal is lawful," Yahoo said in a statement.

Google has maintained that the Yahoo deal does not violate antitrust law and has argued its case in public testimony before Congress. Google said it put the ad deal with Yahoo on hold so the Justice department could understand it and it continues to work cooperatively with them.

"While there has been a lot of speculation about this agreement’s potential impact on advertisers or ad prices, we think it would be premature for regulators to halt the agreement before we implement it and everyone can judge the actual impact," Google said according to Reuters.