US senator urges antitrust curbs on Google/ITA deal

* Kohl urges Google be required to license ITA software

* Kohl asks Justice Dept to consider search bias condition

WASHINGTON, Dec 1 (BestGrowthStock) – The Justice Department should
put conditions on Google Inc (Read more about Google Stock Analysis)’s (GOOG.O: ) proposed purchase of
airline ticketing software company ITA Software Inc, Senator
Herb Kohl, head of a senate antitrust panel, said in a letter
on Wednesday.

Kohl said the $700 million deal could end up depriving
travel websites such as Expedia (EXPE.O: ), Orbitz (OWW.N: ), Kayak
and TripAdvisor of critical software.

“Many of ITA’s customers believe that access to ITA’s
technology is critical to competition in online air travel
search because it cannot be matched by other players in the
travel search industry,” Kohl wrote in the letter to Christine
Varney, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division.

The letter was dated December 1.

Google has said that it would honor contracts that ITA has
with the travel sites, and Kohl asked that the Justice
Department include that as part of a consent decree approving
the transaction “to ensure that Google’s promise is
enforceable.”

Kohl also referred to accusations that Google manipulated
search results to steer consumers to its own services and to
the fear that Google planned to start its own travel search
service.

He urged the Justice Department, if it found the
accusations “compelling,” to consider conditioning any approval
of the deal on a ban on biasing air travel search results.

Google argues that since it does not compete against ITA
Software, the deal will not change existing market share in the
online travel industry and will result in better search results
for consumers.

“We’ve pledged to continue licensing ITA’s search tools to
other sites, and hope to drive more potential customers to
airline and online travel websites,” said Google spokesman Adam
Kovacevich.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Richard Chang)

US senator urges antitrust curbs on Google/ITA deal