back to article Texas antitrust investigators request Google 'ad rate formula'

Texas antitrust investigators have asked Google to turn over its formula for setting advertising rates and documents that show "manual overriding or altering of” its search rankings, according to a report citing a letter from the Texas attorney general's office. Bloomberg reports that Kim Van Winkle, an assistant attorney …


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  1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Do no evil?

    Yeah, right.

    1. Lewis Mettler

      if you work for Microsoft

      If you work for Microsoft or even use any of their products you must know that commingling the OS and IE is in fact illegal. No just evil. No knows what that is. But, illegal is clear.

      I guess since Microsoft knows it operates illegally it goes around convincing everyone to declare Google evil?

      You really have to wait and see what Google does in response to the concerns.

      Many companies including FORD, HP and many others have corrected their business practices to conform to legal practices.

      Microsoft refuses to do that insisting upon illegal practices against consumers. If you want to call that evil that is fine. I call it illegal.

  2. Sam Liddicott

    texas can smell the fine already

    Yup, Texas is short of cash.

    Expect big fines on this one - perhaps has much as quarter of a billion dollars. They'll keep looking until they find something.

    1. Luther Blissett

      Cash only?

      And there was I thinking that Texas was just short of independence. Maybe they no longer think Big there.

  3. Tzael


    So has Google provided the information requested in that letter dated 29th of July? Probably the most interesting aspect to this story yet it goes unanswered in the article.

  4. Rich 30


    You just cant be the best anymore, can you? Be the best, then somehow you have to let the crappier businesses have some of YOUR pie.

    1. DavCrav

      Real problem is that Google wants other people's pies as well

      If Google just did search and ads, this wouldn't be a problem, probably. But no, it has to then start doing maps, and then doing product search and shopping, now finance, etc. The word is ANTI-TRUST, not MONOPOLY. The court is seeing whether Google has used its dominance in one area of the industry to unfairly eliminate competition in another.

      I'll give you an example: Exxon MegaBank of America makes a gazillion dollars a year: as a pet project, they decide to open up a supermarket in a small town somewhere in Idaho and give away all the food. It won't take long until all the other shops in this small town are bankrupt. Good thing? After a while, Exxon MegaBank of America gets bored of giving the food away and starts charging for it. Now all the profits from the food sector go to it. Good thing? (You might say that other people will open up stores in response, and for something simple like food, maybe. But in general, many industries have high barriers to entry. And with monopoly profits, Exxon MegaBank of America could easily lower prices temporarily to kill off any newcomers.)

      This is obviously a ridiculous example, but there's a spectrum of behaviour that Exxon MegaBank of America can do when trying to enter a new market. Anti-trust is there so that the behaviour is on the honest competition side of things, rather than the example above.

      1. Rich 30

        obviously a ridiculous example..

        Yep, that is a ridiculous example, but i think it demonstrates what you want pefectly, i liked it.

      2. Tom 13

        Yes it is a bad example, because there are no serious barriers to entry

        for the food market and thus Exxom MegaBank of America would never be able to sustain reaping economic as opposed to normal profits. Because they could only afford to do it in one small town, plenty of competitors would continue in other markets. When EBMA started raking in economic profits, those companies would immediately move in because they could rake in slightly lower but still economic profits.

        The question is whether or not similar barriers to entry exist in the search market. The claim being made is that Google's sunk intellectual capital constitutes just such a barrier. First off, I'm rather doubtful it is true. Anybody with an idea for a better search engine is free to crawl the internet and offer their results. But even if I yield the first point without proof, the second quandry is that I don't see the efficacy of denying people profits from their intellectual labor.

        1. DavCrav

          Barriers to entry?

          "First off, I'm rather doubtful it is true. Anybody with an idea for a better search engine is free to crawl the internet and offer their results."

          Yes, a couple of $500m data centres and you can start offering your own search results. How high do you want a barrier to be before you consider it relevant? $10bn?

          Also, I wasn't talking about the search market. I was talking about the other markets. The point is that even if it is very easy to set up a shopping comparison website (and it's not that hard), the problem is getting it indexed in Google. They could either treat you fairly compared with their offering, or, as this lawsuit suggests, they could not.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Turn over the formula ?

    Will. Never. Happen.

    I predict Google will even expatriate its headquarters if that is the only solution.

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