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Google’s Legal Woes: U.S. Government, Motorola, AT&T ... Al Franken?

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google-malletA number of updates on Google legal and antitrust woes cropped up this week, as the Department of Interior/Microsoft case came to a close, the Google/Motorola deal received a second request, and Google filed to prevent release of proprietary information in the AT&T/T-Mobile case.

In the midst of all of this, U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), thinks it might be a good idea to promote a Google product while participating in their antitrust senate hearing. Read on for the latest.

Google and Microsoft to Compete (Again) for Government Email Contract

After much mudslinging between the tech giants, Google’s lawsuit against the Department of the Interior over preferential treatment for Microsoft has been dismissed by a federal judge. Google had filed suit against the DOI in 2010, claiming Microsoft was unfairly awarded a $49.3 million government email contract.

They won an injunction temporarily preventing the DOI from awarding the contract to Microsoft after alleging the agency’s approach was “unduly restrictive of competition.” Google said they’d spent months trying to negotiate a Google Apps contract, but were told their software lacked the necessary security and the DOI would only entertain proposals involving Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). Ironically, neither Google Apps nor Microsoft BPOS met Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requirements at the time, though both have since obtained certification.

Google claims they’ve reached an agreement with the agency, who say the RFP from July 2010 is “stale,” paving the way for Microsoft and Google to once again go at each other’s throats over the lucrative government cloud contract.

Google “Confident” About Motorola Deal Despite Antitrust Regulators Scrutiny

In a post published today on Google’s Public Policy Blog, Dennis Woodside, SVP, announced they’ve received a “second request” for more information in their review of the Motorola Mobility acquisition. While Google touts the positive reaction they’re hearing about the deal, a second request generally indicates that the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice feels there are antitrust issues meriting closer scrutiny.

Google believes “very strongly” that the move is pro-competitive and in the best interests of consumers and partners. Second requests are not unheard of and while this does not mean the deal will be blocked, Google conceded that it won’t close right away.

Google Requests Confidentiality in AT&T/T-Mobile Lawsuit

Google has asked the U.S. federal judge overseeing the Justice Department’s lawsuit against AT&T for an opportunity to contest the disclosure of what it calls “competitively sensitive” data related to launch plans and products, Bloomberg reported.

In their request, Google said, “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.” The Justice Department, along with seven states, moved to stop the acquisition on the grounds that combining AT&T with T-Mobile USA would make AT&T the largest U.S. wireless carrier and substantially reduce competition.

Sen. Franken Promotes Google Program While Overseeing Antitrust Hearing

In an ethically questionable move, Franken, one of those providing supposedly unbiased oversight in Google’s antitrust senate hearing, is now featured in an online video promoting Google’s Get Your Business Online program. Interestingly, comments have been disabled on the YouTube video.


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