Google ITA Deal – FairSearch Coalition’s Response
When the announcement came out regarding the Department of Justice’s approval of Google’s acquisition of ITA Software (with certain stipulations), we included a brief statement from FairSearch on the subject.
FairSearch is an organization made up mainly of travel sites, which was designed to see the ITA acquisition blocked. It also counts Google’s arch-nemesis Microsoft among its members.
Now, they’ve had a bit more time to come up with a response, and have issued a entire press release about it. It’s basically a longer version of the initial statement, but here it is in its entirety:
FairSearch.org Coalition Applauds Justice Department for Challenge to Google-ITA Deal
Group says enforcement action “a clear win for consumers and competition in the marketplace”
Urges lawmakers and enforcers in the U.S. and elsewhere to remain vigilant
WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 8, 2011 – Today, the FairSearch.org coalition of online businesses launched in October 2010 to support competition, transparency and innovation in online search, issued a statement regarding the Justice Department’s decision to bring an enforcement action against, and impose conditions on, Google’s acquisition of ITA Software, the flight search technology provider that powers many of the Internet’s most popular travel sites.
“Today’s antitrust enforcement action by the Justice Department is a clear win for consumers and competition in the marketplace. Google’s attempt to acquire unrestricted control over ITA, which would have violated antitrust laws, has been thwarted – representing a significant step in the right direction.
“The Department’s filing in federal court underscores that Google has both the incentive and ability to deprive other travel websites of the means to compete effectively. In the ITA case, the combination of Google’s general search dominance with the dominant ITA flight search engine would put Google in a position to undermine the ability of competing travel websites to continue providing their high quality services. To address these concerns, the proposed judicial decree requires Google to continue to license ITA’s technology, to continue to develop that technology, and to respect the confidential and proprietary information of the licensees. Moreover, the decree includes ongoing monitoring and reporting requirements that cover potential abuses by Google relating to the decree. Among other things, this provision helps ensure that the Department will continue to learn more about concerns with Google’s anticompetitive behavior. Overall, this enforcement action represents a significant milestone in antitrust enforcement against Google.
“Consumers won this round, but we must remain vigilant. Online competition remains at risk across travel and other economically-significant vertical markets of search, information and online and mobile commerce. The Internet has been a powerful source of innovation, consumer benefits, jobs, and economic growth, and we need to ensure that it continues to live up to its full potential. Google has shown a healthy appetite to expand and exclude competition. Given its past behavior, ongoing scrutiny is essential to ensure that Google adheres to its judicial obligations under the decree and to ensure more generally that consumers and competitive markets are protected.
“The members of FairSearch.org applaud the Justice Department for its thorough examination of these issues and its enforcement action. We also urge lawmakers and enforcers in the U.S. and elsewhere to continue investigating the many concerns that have been raised about Google’s dominance in search and search advertising, particularly its incentive to abuse that power in new vertical markets to the detriment of consumers. Fairsearch.org will continue to serve as a watchdog to help ensure that consumers continue to benefit from robust competition and innovation in the online marketplace.”
For more information about the FairSearch.org coalition, news updates about Google’s acquisition of ITA Software, and more information on the fight for fair search, please visit www.fairsearch.org.
FairSearch.org is a group of businesses united in support of a healthy Internet future, where greater consumer choice and economic growth are driven by competition, integrity and innovation in online search.
Members of FairSearch.org include Expedia Inc., and its brands Expedia.com, Hotwire and TripAdvisor; Farelogix Inc.; Foundem; KAYAK, and its brand SideStep; Level…com; Microsoft; and Sabre Holdings, and its brands Travelocity and ZUJI.
The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division filed a suit to block the acquisition at the same time the DoJ filed its proposal for approval. If approved by the court, the proposal would resolve the concerns addressed in the suit, the DoJ said.