updated 01:50 pm EDT, Fri April 8, 2011
Google ITA deal gets approved with stipulations
The US Justice Department has outlined several stipulations Google needs to fulfill before it can approve the $700 million purchase of travel software company ITA. As a result of the antitrust probe, the software giant needs to develop and license travel software, establish internal firewall procedures and continue software research and development in the industry. There are safeguards needed to preserve competition in online airfare search, the DOJ said.
Websites using ITA's software will have the ability to run their own websites if Google introduces its own airfare buying site. The DOJ believed that the originally proposed deal would significantly reduce competition between providers of comparative flight search websites in the US, which would harm end users
Google will also need to supply mandatory arbitration in specific cases along with a formal reporting mechanism for complainants if it acts in an unfair manner.
The web giant will have to license ITA's QPX software to airfare websites on 'commercially reasonable' terms. QPX is responsible for searching for air travel fares, schedules and availability. Google will need to continue to fund research and development of the software at similar investment levels to ITA's before the takeover.
ITA's next-generation InstaSearch product will also need to be further developed and offered to travel websites. It isn't yet available, but will provide near instant results in some flexible airfare searches.
Google is also not allowed to make deals with airlines that would inappropriately restrict the airlines' right to share seat and booking class information with Google's competitors.
An official comment from Google reveals the company has agreed to the terms and will license software to ITA's existing clients until 2016. [via TechCrunch]