Apple, Google face antitrust inquiry

New York Times / May 5, 2009
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SAN FRANCISCO - The Federal Trade Commission has begun an inquiry into whether close ties between the boards of Apple and Google violate antitrust laws, said several people briefed on the inquiry.

Apple and Google share two directors. The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 prohibits a person's presence on the boards of two rivals when it would reduce competition between them.

Antitrust experts say the provision against "interlocking directorates" is rarely enforced. Nevertheless, the agency has notified Google and Apple of its interest, said the people briefed on the inquiry, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter was confidential.

Like many other companies in the technology industry, Google and Apple are allies as well as competitors. Google, for instance, worked with Apple to design early versions of some its services, like Gmail for Apple's iPhone. But the areas in which the companies are bumping up against each other as rivals have been increasing.