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9/8/2008
08:38 PM
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Justice Dept. Hires 'Super Lawyer' For Possible Google Antitrust Fight

The Department of Justice has been reviewing the proposed ad deal that Google and Yahoo announced in June for possible antitrust action.

The U.S. Department of Justice may be arming for an antitrust showdown with Google.

On Monday evening, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Justice has discreetly hired well-known litigator Sandy Litvack, former general counsel for Walt Disney.

During the Carter administration, Litvack served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.

WSJ writer John R. Wilke states, "Litvack's hiring is the strongest signal yet that the U.S. is preparing to take antitrust action against Google and its advertising deal with Yahoo Inc."

The Department of Justice has been reviewing the proposed ad deal that Google and Yahoo announced in June for possible antitrust action.

House and Senate Committees also heard testimony both for and against the deal in July.

Google declined to comment specifically on the significance of Litvack's purported hiring.

In an e-mailed statement, a Google spokesperson said, "We voluntarily delayed implementation of this arrangement to give the Department of Justice time to understand it, and we continue to work cooperatively with them. While there has been a lot of speculation about this agreement's potential impact on advertisers or ad prices, we think it would be premature for regulators to halt the agreement before we implement it and everyone can judge the actual impact. We are confident that the arrangement is beneficial to competition, but we are not going to discuss the details of the regulatory process."

Litvack resigned from law firm Hogan & Hartson LLP last week, according to The Wall Street Journal, and was hired by Thomas Barnett, the current Assistant Attorney General in charge of Antitrust.

On Monday evening, Litvack's Web page at Hogan & Hartson returned a Web configuration error. While this could be coincidental, it could also support the possibility of a recent or impending change of employment for Litvack.

A cached copy of the page notes that Litvack has been on the list of Southern California Super Lawyers from 2005 through 2008.

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