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Google bolsters monopoly defence

Gamekeeper turned poacher

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Google has hired ex-state prosecutor Jeffrey Blattner who helped run the Department of Justice case against Microsoft.

Microsoft faced a long battle with the DoJ and individual US states on various anti-trust charges. Following the settlement in 2002 it had to put up with government oversight of its business for several years.

Jeffrey Blattner was special counsel for information technology – one of 13 lawyers the US government used to take on Microsoft. Despite his title he was more of a chief of staff for the case than a technical expert. Blattner was previously Ted Kennedy's chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Google is facing a similar, and likely lengthy, legal battle now and is starting to choose a strategic route. As part of this it is beginning to strengthen its legal department in response to the investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

Blattner attended a briefing at the American Antitrust Institute earlier this year on behalf of Google, Reuters reports.

Google, with the help of Blattner, was defending the 'neutrality' of its search engine to the AAI while lawyers for Microsoft offered a different view.

The difficulty for Google is to keep focused on developing products while defending its business against US and European regulators.

Equally important is to find a way to do this without alienating the institutions and individuals with whom it will need to continue to work once any settlement is reached. ®

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