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October 14, 2008 2:09 PM

Five Firms Push for Google-Yahoo Antitrust Settlement

Posted by Nate Raymond

Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. are turning to five separate law firms to represent them in talks with the Justice Department to resolve potential antitrust issues in their proposed advertising agreement, according to lawyers familiar with the situation.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the two companies are in early settlement negotiations with the government to avoid a possible antitrust challenge. The Justice Department last month retained former Hogan & Hartson partner Sandy Litvack to represent the government in a possible challenge to the revenue sharing deal, which the companies signed in June.

If the deal goes through, Yahoo will display search ads sold by Google. Yahoo would gain hundreds of millions in revenue, and would also hamper advertising efforts by Microsoft Corp., which earlier this year placed an unsuccessful $45 billion bid for Yahoo.

Google has turned to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, both of which previously represented the Internet giant during its acquisition of DoubleClick last year. David Gelfand leads the team at Cleary Gottlieb. At Wilson Sonsini, which took Google public in 2004, partners Susan Creigton and Renata Hesse are heading the charge.

Yahoo has brought in lawyers from a myriad of firms. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which does most of Yahoo's corporate work and represented Yahoo during its fight against Microsoft Corporation earlier this year, has turned the job over to partners Michael Weiner and Alec Chang. Also involved in the talks are Daniel Wall and Hanno Kaiser at Latham & Watkins and Hew Pate and David Higbee at Hunton & Williams.

The Journal, citing people close to the settlement talks, says both Google and Yahoo have discussed concessions, including capping ad volume, promising that Yahoo would still compete in search ads, and creating a compliance reporting mechanism.

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