Google up against hotshot lawyer in FTC antitrust case

Serving up legal ammunition against the search giant, the government has on its side attorney Beth Wilkinson, who has the reputation of a tough litigator.

Google could face a rough time in the courtroom if the FTC's antitrust case against it goes to trial.

To determine whether Google violated antitrust laws , the Federal Trade Commission is using the big guns with attorney Beth Wilkinson, an ex-prosecutor for the Department of Justice.

Wilkinson has developed a reputation as a powerful and determined litigator, successfully handling several cases that have put her into the limelight, says Reuters. She was the prosecutor in the trial of Timothy McVeigh, arguing in favor of the death penalty for the Oklahoma City bomber. In private practice, she has defended tobacco companies against consumer lawsuits.

Though her antitrust experience is limited, the FTC could be using her experience and reputation as a way to force Google to settle, according to antitrust experts cited by Reuters. In other words, settle the case now or deal with Wilkinson in the courtroom.

The attorney denied such a tactic, telling Reuters by e-mail that "there is no connection between my trials and the likelihood of the Google matter going to trial."

For now, Wilkinson's role for the FTC has simply been to probe Google's behavior.

The question she must address is whether the search giant has used its No. 1 position to promote its own travel sites and other businesses over third-party Web sites. Several companies that provide such services have alleged that Google tweaks its search results so that its own sites appear before those of any potential rivals.

Wilkinson was hired in April and will work on the Google case a total 130 days this year, Reuters added.

At the same time, the European Union is also looking into antitrust complaints against the company. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia recently said that he would be open to settling the investigation with the search giant if it's open to addressing certain concerns.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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