This will be worth watching:
The Justice Department has quietly hired one of the nation’s best-known litigators, former Walt Disney Co. vice chairman Sanford Litvack, for a possible antitrust challenge to Google Inc.’s growing power in advertising.
Mr. Litvack’s hiring is the strongest signal yet that the U.S. is preparing to take court action against Google and its search-advertising deal with Yahoo Inc. The two companies combined would account for more than 80% of U.S. online-search ads.
Google shares tumbled 5.5%, or $24.30, to $419.95 in 4 p.m. trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, while Yahoo shares were up 18 cents to $18.26.
For weeks, U.S. lawyers have been deposing witnesses and issuing subpoenas for documents to support a challenge to the deal, lawyers close to the review said. Such efforts don’t always mean a case will be brought, however.
Mr. Litvack, who was the Justice Department antitrust chief under President Jimmy Carter, has been asked to examine the evidence gathered so far and to build a case if the decision is made to proceed, the lawyers close to the review said.
I think in a time of general economic turmoil, one of the best things the government can do is to launch lawsuits against the few remaining economic forces. In all seriousness, the real question I have for this sort of case and all those like it is how do they find a jury with the requisite intellect to accurately come to a fair decision. This is a case (should it be brought) with intricacies that would confuse 98% of the population (and that isn’t because the public is stupid, even though they are, but because of how complicated the law and the case laws are). How do they ever get fair verdicts in these cases?
What did the government do when it sued Microsoft? Or was that not decided by a jury? I was a teenager then so forgive mike ignorance.
Ah ha. Vertical integration of pure service, no product? How would that even be possible?
Microsoft is still under a consent degree, I believe; never went to a jury.
Federal courts can put together pretty smart juries – they cast the net widely and can some smart retired professionals with graduate degrees to fill many of the slots. This case would be murder on the jurors, though.
I think it was decided by a judge, and has been ongoing in some form or another ever since.
Dennis - SGMM
The case may be tried in front of a judge as the SCO vs IBM (And practically everyone else) lawsuit is being tried. That particular case, largely because of the reams of discovery being called for, the invocation of trade secrets, etc., has been dragging on for nearly five years. The Yahoo/Google partnership is needed much more by Yahoo. If the Feds break it up then Google will simply achieve 80% market dominance on its own in a few more years. The Feds seemed to have no such qualms about market dominance while two companies absorbed almost all of their competition in the defense industry.
Good question. Antitrust has to be one of the most complicated, perhaps the most complicated, type of court action. Students in my law school had problems with a bunch of the concepts. I can just imagine what a jury may think. But, everyone is entitled to a jury trial.
SCO vs IBM… I’ve had many an hour of innocent enjoyment following that case. :D
Fairness is something that’s left outside every law school alongside Justice and Equality.
I thought you knew that.
It’s been a long time since getting a “fair” verdict has mattered to these people…
Huh. This is a head scratcher. This is the administration whose lawyers showed up at the tail end of the microsoft hearings so unprepared that the judge dressed them down for it. Microsoft still has a 92% share due to the bush admin doj asking for no real redress of their monopoly. Dennis is right about the much more critical aeronautical defense industry being a better target. It’s almost like Microsoft set this in motion, honestly… they does have a lot of monies to throw at dc, and they have been doing that. Might be finally paying out.
How to you get a fair verdict? You don’t let it get to verdict. Google gets scared at the arbitrary nature of it all, makes a few minor concessions, and ends this quickly.
I have long suspected that like other parts of the Justice Department the Anti-Trust Division makes decisions based on politics, not that law. They have looked the other way in blatant violations, but when it has come to companies that may be viewed as having a liberal constituency or who’s management may be liberal leaning they have hammered them, even when it appears that there is no or little basis for the case.
In addition to the above examples of industries they have looked the other way on they have allowed an incredible concentration in the banking and airlines industry, but when 2 marginal players in the famously fragmented grocery industry wanted to merge in order to survive, Whole Foods and Wild Oats, you know, places where latte sipping Volvo driving liberals shop they wanted to hammer them. I can’t believe that any one would be able to argue to a judge with a straight face that somehow that concentration would dominate the grocery industry anywhere (there are 2 or 3 of them together in my market, where the number 3 or number 4 player has 11 stores).
You tell me there is not something wrong with that picture. I have $100 that executives at Google contribute heavily to Dems.
That’ll teach ’em not to explore new ways to extract crude oil from the ocean floor.
“How do they ever get fair verdicts in these cases?”
As Dennis points out, the case may be tried before a judge rather than a jury. Also, whether the case is set for a judge or jury trial, the vast majority of these types of cases are settled well before trial. In those that aren’t and are tried before a jury, at least ninety percent of the time, the juries are able to handle them quite well.
During the pre-trial phase, much of the case is whittled away by legal decisions, issued by a judge who has been briefed on those issues by the parties’ attorneys. Juries are asked to answer factual, not legal, questions and these questions, most often, are easy to answer if the evidence is presented properly at trial. When complicated factual issues arise, the members of the jury will be provided with expert testimony to help clarify the issues. And, in court proceedings, unlike in what passes for “expert” political analysis, a witness is not entitled to refuse to answer a question, change the subject, or simply bullshit his way through his testimony. Dishonesty usually becomes apparent to everyone in the courtroom and is not ignored out of “deference” to a witness.
On the whole, the system works well. Even in cases that may, at first, seem complicated. Juries will never know everything they could know about a case. But, almost always, they know enough to make an intelligent decision on the issues presented to them.
If this were any other administration, I’d say you were being paranoid, but these guys make Nixon look like an amateur.
Hey, just a god damned minute here !!
Balloon Juice just loaded !!
Fair judgment? Informed jury? What are you, daft? Who the hell would want that? It would bring the system to it’s knees.
If you think that’s bad, consider the fact that Marshall, a small town in East Texas, has now become the favored location for patent litigation. As you might imagine, patent litigation can involve highly technical and intricate details about various technologies, and yet this gets litigated in front of juries in East Texas, which is not exactly a hotbed of technical innovation or technologically informed people.
Great, that’ll leave AT&T free to pick up the pieces.
If there were ever a threat to our current mode of communication, it’s the near-monopoly AT&T has on the tubes.
Why doesn’t the Justice Department go after them?
I worked on part of the DOJ settlement with Microsoft, and now work with Expedia and DoubleClick as a part of Google. These lawsuits are mostly bullshit connived by middle management trying to buy a fucking boat.
Copyright laws are worse, but this is getting close.
“I’m a corporation who got lobbyists to convince the government to sue people to give me money.” That’s the whole thing in a nutshell. Has nothing to do with facts or technology, liscense or fair use.
It’s pretty much Grandpa Simpson showing up and shouting “I’m old! Give me money!”
Corporations pwn the large law firms. The large law firms and the ABA pwn the law schools. The result is that legal education has gotten so expensive that law school graduates not employed by the large law firms are beggared by the process of being educated.
This is not a bug, but a feature.
Do you need a map?
I’m opposed to Microsoft right now, because I cannot get Word to do what I want. I’m trying to work from a template but change the page margins, but the “page setup” option is grayed out. Does anyone know how to do this? Google wouldn’t torture me so. Thanks, love y’all —
Cui Bono? Those that thought that putting kernel32.dll and MSHTML.dll on the same disc was a crime.
Oh, and the lawyers charging 200 bucks an hour for ten years.
The Moar You Know
They already did, not that it matters.
AT&T is left to the FCC to regulate. Airlines have been pressed from time to time but it’s difficult to figure out what to constrain (flights, seats, etc.) to prevent anticompetitive behavior. Banking has definitely been regulated.
“Concentration” hasn’t been the metric for antitrust for 35-odd years now. There’s simply no good, causal evidence linking concentration per se to anticompetitive behavior. The yardstick is consumer welfare, which is much more difficult to prove.
You watch, they let microsoft off lightly on their anti-trust lawsuit, eventually overturning the decision on review that was supposed to break up MS.
Now Google has been a thorn in the governments side, especially when refusing to turn over all their search records when Bush and Co. were waging their war on the American public, errrr Terror I mean.
This will probably not only be a lawsuit but a vendetta to be settled as well.
Wouldn’t want to be on a jury for something like this. Had a co-worker doing a jury stint on a Federal case (some environmental lawsuit). She was on that jury for about a year and a half.
A week into jury duty and I start going nuts.
Do you even know what an RVA in a PE is?
[quote]they let microsoft off lightly on their anti-trust lawsuit[/quote]
The primary problem was that the optimized binaries that were released had one or two symbols pointed at them, but had 5 or six imports pointing to the same RVA in a PE.
(Relative Value Address) (Portable Executable). Due to the optimized nature of the released binaries, several symbols machine code were compressed into the same function and were one way mapped to the same RVA in a PE. Mapping backwards was what I did for the DOJ. Most of the undocumented API’s were pretty much stub functions that windows standard call null params return true stubs that never got purged after a redesign. The optimized compiler would take all of these funcs and drop them into the same RVA into the binary, even though the PDB would point towards several different RVA’s as they were gen’d before the post compile optimize step . This was the basis for most of the suit. In other words if you had five functions that just returned true, they got optimized into 5 pointers to the same function that returned true, even though the pdb though they were 5 seperate funcs. This meant that 4 funcs were undocumented as they pointed to non-existent addresses that were killed in a post compile optimization step.
However who understood anything of what I just said? Certainly not the lawyers. Or the Judges.
I think Reno had a pretty strong case against Microsoft, when it started deliberately releasing products and patches that fucked up third-party apps and freeware products. There was a time when Netscape Navigator just up and died on you if you ran it on a Windows box, specifically because Windows was designed to limit Navigator’s commonly used ports and calls.
Go ask Sun Microsystems about anti-competitive behavior. They’ll have plenty of tales to tell.
And you only get the leverage to pull shit like that when you have massive market share. People who try when they don’t have the market cornered – like Apple or Nintendo in the early 90s – quickly watch their market share evaporate as people flock to other options that are more friendly.
Oh, the irony! Disney has often fought with hammer and tong to extend its control over copyrights, trademarks, and royalties (e.g., the fight over Winnie the Pooh, Peggy Lee’s suit against Disney over Lady and the Tramp royalties, etc.)
One also wonders whether the government is seeking to punish google for resisting some efforts to give Internet usage data to snoops and censors.
In the spirit of the times, how about twelve Sarah Palins?
You’re right, but the further irony is that Microsoft’s supposed behemoth status could not prevent the rise of Yahoo and google, or Craigslist, or prevent Apple from eating Microsoft’s lunch with products like iTunes and iPods. Some anti-trust “remedies” seem to be entirely irrelevant when it comes to some areas of technological innovation.
Also, given the collapse of the existing advertising models of print news media, I think the last thing anyone would want to do is stifle innovation in this area.
Concentration is a precondition to anticompetitive behavior, but it doesn’t cause anticompetitive behavior. (Monopolies can be more efficient, etc., etc.)
In the 60s a merger could get nixed for going from a 2% to 5% market share; nowadays the threshold is much higher, but it’s still there. For things like price-fixing or tying (as in the Microsoft case) the standards are much harsher.
The point is that there’s no rule against monopolies; the rule is against raising prices, which can’t be imputed based on market concentration. (On the other hand, the Antitrust Division generally keeps a close eye on concentrated industries.)
They went easy on them in my opinion regardless of bad coding and defunct functions being included, and the anti-trust suit was not only relating to what you mention, it also had to do with sales tactics with manufacturers and resellers.
Probably not…But I am sure your ego now feels much better after writing that, so good on ya.
But maybe, just maybe, you should have had someone else explain that in terms/metaphors/comparisons etc that ordinary people could have understood….gah no wonder corp.s get away this type of activity with a bumbling DOJ.
That’s the rub! The terms are precise, and mean exact things. But most people don’t know that.
Someone says [email protected] is an undocumented function, when
it’s really just an abandoned stub function that got rolled up to a different RVA in the post compile process. And they sue!
Oh how they sue.