Report: DOJ was hours from filing Google suit

In interview, lawyer hired to look into the Google-Yahoo deal says government was on the verge of filing antitrust suit when the companies abandoned the search pact.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried

It is widely known that Google pulled the plug on the search advertising deal with Yahoo only because it appeared that it would face a regulatory challenge. However, it emerged on Wednesday just how close the company came to facing an antitrust suit from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Sandy Litvack, the lawyer hired by the Justice Department to look into the search advertising pact between Google and Yahoo, said in an interview with American Lawyer's AmLaw Daily that the government had a suit ready and was just three hours away from filing it.

"We were going to file the complaint at a certain time during the day," Litvack said in the interview. "We told them we were going to file the complaint at that time of day. Three hours before, they told us they were abandoning the agreement."

According to Litvack, the government would have sought an injunction to stop Google from serving up search ads for Yahoo, alleging that Google was violating two sections of the Sherman antitrust act.

At the end of the interview, Litvack said he's happy to be heading back to his law firm, but says he regretted not getting to take part in the legal battle.

"Of course I was looking forward to it," Litvack said. "We felt pretty good about it, we felt pretty confident. Yeah, I would have liked to have done it."