Just how close did the Justice Department come to filing anti-trust charges against Google and Yahoo over their search advertising deal?
About three hours close, according to an Am Law Daily interview with Sanford Litvack, the bulldog litigator hired by the DOJ to investigate the outsourcing agreement.
“We were going to file the complaint at a certain time during the day,” Litvack told Am Law. “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.”
After the deal was scuttled, an apparently disappointed Litvack went back to his firm, Hogan & Hartson. “We felt pretty good about it, we felt pretty confident. Yeah, I would have liked to have done it.”
More from the Am Law story:
The never-filed government complaint would have charged that the agreement violated Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, Litvack tells the Am Law Daily in one of his first interviews since the companies canned the venture. Section 1 bans agreements that restrain trade unreasonably. Section 2 makes it unlawful for a company to monopolize or attempt to monopolize trade.
“It would have ended up also alleging that Google had a monopoly and that [the advertising pact] would have furthered their monopoly,” Litvack says.
The complaint would have sought a preliminary injunction to stop the agreement from going forward. “The fact that we filed a lawsuit would not by itself have stopped them,” he says. “We would have had to get an injunction from the court, and we would have sought that.”