Tech firms could see fallout from antitrust shift

If the Obama administration is serious about more aggressively responding to antitrust complaints, some of technology’s biggest companies could have to rethink their business strategies or expansion plans, reports the Associated Press. The administration on May 11 said it has abandoned Bush-era policies that it criticized as too friendly to companies that dominate their markets. Tougher antitrust enforcement could focus on technology companies such as Intel Corp., which could face a steep fine in Europe this week over its behavior in the microprocessor industry, and Google Inc., whose leading market shares in online search and advertising markets were already drawing scrutiny in the waning days of the Bush administration. It remains to be seen whether the Justice Department’s different approach will lead to more court cases or more challenges to proposed business deals. But antitrust lawyers say a more aggressive antitrust philosophy likely would make the Obama administration resemble the Clinton years far more than the Bush years. Under Clinton, the Justice Department brought 12 anti-monopoly cases that didn’t involve mergers or acquisitions. That included the long-running case against Microsoft in which a judge at one point ordered Microsoft split into two. (The case eventually was settled with the Bush administration, though it lives on: The Justice Department recently extended its oversight of Microsoft’s compliance with the settlement for another 18 months, into 2011…)

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