Google’s $700 Million Purchase of ITA Software Is Cleared by U.S. Judge

Google Inc. (GOOG)’s $700 million purchase of travel-information company ITA Software Inc. was cleared by a federal judge after the search-engine company agreed to conditions imposed by the U.S. government.

U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins in Washington today approved a consent decree between Google and the Justice Department that allows the acquisition as long as Google makes travel data available to search-engine rivals and lets the government review any complaints it’s acting unfairly. Wilkins said he found the agreement to be in “the public interest.”

Google, operator of the world’s largest search engine, agreed to license ITA’s travel-information software to third parties, to put up firewalls protecting client data and to establish an arbitration process for fee disputes. The Justice Department and Google reached the consent decree in April after an eight-month review.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Kayak.com, Expedia Inc. (EXPE) and other Google competitors banded together as FairSearch.org to oppose the acquisition of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based ITA, whose software provides data for online travel sites such as Orbitz Worldwide Inc. They said the deal would reduce competition and called on the Justice Department to impose conditions.

“We’re excited about the new features and tools we’re already developing for our users with ITA Software,” Adam Kovacevich, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, said in an e-mail.

The case is U.S. v. Google, 11-cv-00688, 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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