DOJ Exploring “Search Fairness” With Google As Rivals Protest Potential ITA Licensing Deal

On Friday Reuters reported that Google and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) are exploring licensing guarantees as part of a potential “settlement” that would avoid litigation to block Google’s intended purchase of online travel software provider ITA. In addition the report says that the DOJ is also looking closely at issues of “search fairness” (or “search neutrality”), which are also at the heart of the European antitrust investigation against Google.

In the wake of this report, over the weekend, FairSearch.org came out with a statement opposing any such potential licensing deal:

Even If 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.   Moreover, such an order would not address other threatened harms from Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA.  For example, Google also could abuse its general search dominance to steer users to its own or favored flight search products and could take proprietary technology developed by ITA licensees that resides on ITA servers.  The members of Fairsearch.org continue to believe that the best way to protect consumers and competition from these and other threats is for the DOJ to block the deal and require Google to expand its travel search offerings through a less harmful means.

FairSearch was organized by travel sites to oppose the acquisition of ITA by Google. It appears that the group wants the acquisition blocked outright and won’t be happy with a deal that guarantees them access to ITA’s software.

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • msgs4lhtpcompany

    I would like to say thank SELand for the accurate information. I rely on you to supply the most up to date information. As for this article, it is fairly written. I dislike however the concerns of such persons. If they do not like Google than use AOL. LOL. I must be missing the articles on Television companies who only allow those who pay them to appear in commercials between shows, or an uprising against billboard companies. Yeah I know, none of these posses the influence that Google does, but really? Google has fought tooth and nail to protect out data. Now org’s want to teem up with the DOJ? Really? I would like to see all these people teaming up aganst Google release complete user and search data. Than maybe they will have more love for Google when their user data dirt is everywhere. Google has made search what it is today, we should be thankful for all their inovation has done for the world. But hey, jealousy and greed powers most of these uprisings. Or fear, fear of what they will lose orbit gain because they just can’t do what Google can.

  • http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    The DOJ did a bang up job protecting consumers from any advertising price increases coming out of the Microsoft-Yahoo! deal, so I am sure they will apply that experience to protect consumers from unfair competition here, too.

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