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Report: FTC eyed Google, Amazon director Doerr

Last year's inquiries into overlapping roles between Google and Apple directors haven't gone away. The government reportedly has examined the dual roles held by John Doerr at Google and Amazon.

Once again, the Federal Trade Commission has apparently been looking into the roles of Google board members: this time, involving Amazon and legendary venture capitalist John Doerr.

John Doerr
Legendary venture capitalist John Doerr Martin LaMonica/CNET

The New York Times reported Thursday that Doerr recently stepped down from Amazon for more reasons than just to "focus more of his time on new ventures," as he said when announcing his departure from Amazon's board. Doerr, an early investor in Google who continues to sit on the search giant's board of directors, was the subject of an inquiry from the FTC over the potential for overlapping roles between the two companies, according to the report.

A similar inquiry took place last year between Google and Apple over the dual roles held by both Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Genentech Chairman Arthur Levinson at the two companies. Both eventually resigned from one of the positions, with Schmidt leaving Apple's board and Levinson leaving Google's board.

Google and Amazon have butted heads over Google's Book Search settlement with authors and publishers, and could be considered competitors in the e-book space as Android e-readers are released to challenge the Kindle. They also both compete for Web developers who want to use a third-party host for their applications.

It doesn't seem the FTC conducted anything more than a preliminary inquiry, but it's not clear. Government inquiries are starting to get routine for Google, a clear target for an administration that is also taking a closer look at the cozy relationship between companies in Silicon Valley.