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U.S. approves Google's purchase of ITA Software with some conditions

To acquire ITA, which develops online flight and reservation software, Google must take steps to ensure competition, the Justice Department says in a proposed settlement.

April 09, 2011|By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times

The Justice Department has approved Google Inc.'s proposed $700-million purchase of travel data company ITA Software Inc., with some strings attached.

To acquire ITA, which develops online flight and reservation software for airline companies, Google must adhere to certain requirements intended to ensure competition in the field, according to a proposed settlement announced Friday by the Justice Department.

On the same day the settlement was announced, the Justice Department's antitrust division filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington to block the proposed acquisition. If the settlement is approved by the court, the department said, it would resolve the concerns of the lawsuit.

The settlement is meant to ensure that airlines using ITA software "will be able to power their websites to compete against any airfare website Google may introduce," the Justice Department said.

The original purchase proposal, the department said, would have substantially cut down on competition from websites that compare schedules and ticket prices. Examples of websites that are used for flight comparison shopping by consumers include Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity.

Under the Justice Department settlement, Google would be required to license ITA's software to websites on "commercially reasonable terms." Google would also have to implement firewalls to prevent inappropriate use of personal information gathered from customers, the department said.

shan.li@latimes.com

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