U.S. orders Google to fulfill requirements before acquisition of ITA SoftwareApril 9th, 2011 - 2:55 am ICT by BNO News
WASHINGTON D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The United States Justice Department on Friday announced that Google Inc. must fulfill some requirements in order to proceed with its proposed acquisition of ITA Software Inc in order to protect competitiveness in airfare systems.
The department required Google Inc. to develop license travel software, establish internal firewall procedures and to continue software research and development. In July 2010, Google agreed to purchase ITA Software, a producer of airfare pricing and shopping systems, for a $700 million.
The original proposed acquisition would have provided Google with substantially less competition among providers of comparative flight search websites in the United States, resulting in reduced choice and less innovation for consumers.
On Friday, the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in U.S. District Court to block the proposed acquisition. At the same time, the department filed a proposed settlement that, if approved by the court, would resolve the competitive concerns of the lawsuit.
“The proposed settlement assures that airfare comparison and booking websites will be able to compete effectively, providing benefits to consumers,” said Joseph Wayland, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division. “It also ensures those websites will continue to have access to ITA’s pricing and shopping software.”
Under the proposal, Google will be required to continue to license ITA’s QPX software to airfare websites on commercially reasonable terms. Such software is used for conducting searches for air travel fares, schedules and availability.
Google will also be required to further develop and offer ITA’s next generation InstaSearch product to travel websites, which will provide near instantaneous results to certain types of flexible airfare search queries and is currently in development.
Furthermore, Google will have to implement firewall restrictions within the company to prevent abuse of commercially sensitive information. The proposed settlement delineates when and for what purpose that data may be used by Google.
Google was also prohibited from entering into agreements with airlines that could restrict the air carrier’s right to share seat and booking information with Google’s competitors.
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Tags: air travel fares, airfare search, antitrust division, antitrust lawsuit, assistant attorney general, bno, competitiveness, deputy assistant, google, google inc, instantaneous results, qpx, search queries, search websites, shopping software, shopping systems, software research, travel software, united states justice department, wayland