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FTC may launch antitrust probe into Google's search engine dominance

The FTC is waiting to see whether the Justice Department goes through with an antitrust lawsuit over Google's $700-million purchase of ITA Software before the agency decides whether to launch its own antitrust probe.

April 06, 2011|By Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Los Angeles Times

The Federal Trade Commission is considering launching a probe into Google Inc.'s dominance of the online search engine market, according to a report.

But before the FTC initiates any antitrust investigation, the agency is waiting to see whether the Justice Department goes through with an antitrust lawsuit over Google's $700-million purchase of ITA Software, according to a report Tuesday from Bloomberg, which cited two unnamed people "familiar with the matter."

ITA builds online flight and ticket information software for airline companies. The Justice Department would be investigating how Google planned to integrate the flight-information company into its search engine.

A possible FTC investigation into Google's search-related products could look into similar matters, according to the Bloomberg report.

Both the FTC and Justice Department are responsible for enforcing antitrust laws, but sometimes they negotiate to decide which agency would lead a high-profile investigation. The one with the most expertise on the subject of the probe typically ends up taking the lead, the report said.

Executives at the Mountain View, Calif., tech giant were not available for comment, but Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich told Bloomberg in an email that consumers were free to choose whichever search engine they preferred.

"Since competition is one click away on the Internet, we work hard to put our users' interests first and give them the best, most relevant answers to their queries," Kovacevich told Bloomberg. "We built Google for users, not websites."

Gina Talamona, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the agency had no comment on the Bloomberg report.

Google shares fell $18.59, or 3.2%, to $569.09 on Tuesday.

nathan.olivarezgiles@latimes.com

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