Justice Department Eyes Google Acquisition Plan

The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into challenging Google's plan to buy travel software company ITA Software, according to reports.

The DOJ is putting together the necessary paperwork but lawyers there have yet to decide whether there are sufficient antitrust concerns to proceed with a court case, the Wall Street Journal reported today, citing unnamed sources.

The Justice Department is expected to decide whether to take the matter to court by the end of this month or in early February, the Journal noted.

Google announced its plan to acquire ITA last July.

ITA is a travel-software company that supplies popular Internet airline-ticket search and booking sites, such as Orbitz, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company was founded in the mid-90s by MIT computer science graduates.

The government regulators might oppose the deal because ITA's products are used in the systems of many online travel agencies and airlines.

Google was on an acquisition spree last year, buying up 23 companies by late in September.

Calling Google's run a "torrid acquisition pace," research firm CB Insights noted that last year's total is equivalent to all of its buying activity between 2007 and 2009.

Among the companies the Google bought in 2010, three of them were search-oriented and three were focused on social media. One, according to CB Insights, focused on gaming, while another was focused on e-mail.

Just this week, Google announced that it is acquiring eBook Technologies , a company that specializes in both hardware and content distribution for electronic readers.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feedsgaudin@computerworld.com . . Her e-mail address is

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