Report: Antitrust probes start against Google

Jessica M. Karmasek Jun. 27, 2011, 12:21pm


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - A handful of states reportedly have begun their antitrust probes into search engine giant Google Inc.

According to Bloomberg News, California, New York, Ohio and Texas all are in the early stages of their investigations.

Persons with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg about the probes on Friday.

In September, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that his office was officially looking into the company's methods for recommending websites. The investigation was spurred by complaints that Google has abused its power as the Internet's most dominant search engine.

Such allegations were levied against the company by UK-based Foundem, New York-based SourceTool and TradeComet, and Ohio-based myTriggers.

Then, in February, Abbott requested information from Google about its advertising rate formula and search result rankings. Investigators with Abbott's ofice were looking for documents that showed "manual overriding or altering of" search result rankings.

According to the attorney general's civil investigative demand, Abbott's office also wanted documents on rivals Bing and Yahoo! and any complaints about buying an ad on the search engine.

In March, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said his office also was considering an investigation.

The U.S. Justice Department is already investigating Google for its plan to purchase a software company and an Internet advertising company. The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly considering a broader antitrust investigation of the company.

Other states have said they might conduct their own probes of the Mountain View, Calif.-based Google.

In March, Wisconsin's Justice Department told Bloomberg it was looking into the search engine's bid to buy a software company.

In May, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt told the news service that he was thinking about joining other states in an investigation of the company.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at

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