Google Asks for Right in AT&T Case to Protect Confidential Company Data

Google Inc. (GOOG) asked a U.S. judge overseeing the government’s lawsuit seeking to stop AT&T Inc. (T) from buying T-Mobile USA Inc. for a chance to contest the disclosure of its confidential data in the case.

Google, which provided the information to the Justice Department in its investigation of the proposed T-Mobile deal, made its request yesterday in federal court in Washington. Google, describing the data as “competitively sensitive” and related to internal products and launch plans, urged U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle to have the parties give the company advance notice of possible disclosures in court or to experts.

“Without such additional protection, Google and other non- parties could find their confidential information -- such as Google’s business plans related to Android -- in the hands of competitors (or their competitors’ consultants), or even in newspapers, without having had prior notice of its disclosure,” Google said its request to intervene in the lawsuit.

The Justice Department sued Dallas-based AT&T and Bonn- based Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE)’s T-Mobile unit on Aug. 31, saying a combination of the two companies would “substantially” reduce competition. Seven states joined the government’s effort to block the deal, which would make AT&T the biggest U.S. wireless carrier.

Google, which provided the information to the Justice Department in its investigation of the proposed T-Mobile deal, made its request yesterday in federal court in Washington. The company describes the data as “competitively sensitive” and related to internal products and launch plans. Photo: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg Close

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Google, which provided the information to the Justice Department in its investigation of the proposed T-Mobile deal, made its request yesterday in federal court in Washington. The company describes the data as “competitively sensitive” and related to internal products and launch plans. Photo: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

Michael Balmoris, an AT&T spokesman, didn’t immediately respond yesterday to an e-mail message seeking comment on Google’s request.

The case is U.S. v. AT&T Inc., 11-cv-01560, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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