Chillin'Competition

Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Conflicting views on the Google/ITA Software deal

with one comment

Last week I mentioned here the White Paper issued by the American Antitrust Institute on Google´s proposed acquisition of ITA Software. As you will recall, the AAI concluded that the deal would give rise to competitive concerns that made antitrust intervention necessary. As practically all Google-related debates, this one is fast getting huge, and extremely interesting.

On the one hand, the anti-Google “Fair Search” coalition has created a web page stating all the reasons why the deal would harm consumers in every conceivable way. You may or may not agree with it, but one must admit that they´re doing a pretty good job in speading their message around (this is a consequence of what I meant when I said here that Google has tough and very powerful competitors, who have the incentives and the means to present a fierce battle in as many fronts as possible). 

We´ve given you the link to the AAI´s White Paper and to the Fair Search web page, both of which favor close scrutiny of this transaction. The picture would not be complete if we didn´t direct you to some of the arguments explaining why the acquisition of ITA by Google would actually be procompetitive. Daniel Crane, a Professor at Michigan Law School, has just written a guest post on the blog Techcrunch.com in which he does that exactly; he also sends a very clear message: “Let´s calm down on the Google-ITA deal” (thanks go to George Pedakakis for pointing us to it).    

Crane´s main point is that “Google’s competitors naturally fear Google’s emergence as a formidable rival in travel search, but that is hardly a reason to block the transaction. Indeed, it’s a reason to approve the deal. The most likely scenario is that Google’s acquisition of ITA would allow Google a quick and efficient entry point into travel search that would expand consumer options and increase rather than decrease competition“. His post also responds to the main allegations put forward by those opposing the deal.

Now that you´ve a complete picture of the main positions in this debate we´d be happy to know about any thoughts our readers may have on this matter. Anyone? 

Unrelated: We are also reporting more and important moves in the Brussels legal market: a bunch of great associates have also left Howrey to join Shearman&Sterling. Amongst them are some of the brightest young lawyers around (some of whom are also very good friends of ours), such as Mark English, Elvira Aliende, Louise Rabeux, or Marixenia Davilla.      

And a chillin´leak: Julian Joshua is apparently headed to Steptoe & Johnson

It´s shocking to see how what until very recently was a top-notch practice at Howrey´s has disintegrated so quickly. Looking at the positive side: there will be more empty tables at L´arte di, which is were we constantly ran into each other at lunchtime..

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

2 March 2011 at 3:26 pm

One Response

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  1. Specifically with regards to an influence on prices (without judging the rest of the case), I am pretty sure that some of the ‘fair search’ people are mostly afraid of google either steering people to the cheapest prices with the lowest additional fares, or just forwarding to airlines directly, either way they could loose money. But for consumers it would actually be cheaper.

    step21

    2 March 2011 at 4:56 pm


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