After an intensive, eight-month investigation, regulators decided that Google could complete the acquisition of ITA Software, which will let Google build flight search tools. But they required Google to continue to license the software to other companies; to develop ITA products and offer them to competitors; and to erect a firewall so it cannot see sensitive information from competitors. The regulators also said Google must develop a formal process for complaints that it is acting unfairly, and submit to government monitoring that it meets these conditions, which are to last five years.

Some legal experts said this could allow regulators to collect information that could be used in a broader antitrust case. In some ways, the case is reminiscent to the early days of the government’s antitrust investigation of Microsoft, when it also submitted to continued government monitoring. That eventually led to a sweeping antitrust case, and, many analysts say, to the decline of Microsoft’s power in the technology industry.

“This is the beginning, not the end, of serious antitrust scrutiny of Google,” said Samuel R. Miller, a partner at the law firm of Sidley Austin in San Francisco, who was special trial counsel to the Justice Department in its first suit against Microsoft.

Get the full story at The New York Times

Read also FairSearch.org's reaction on the decision at FairSearch.org, and "Google’s Travel Opponents Hoping Bigger Antitrust Case Will Soon Follow" at Search Engine Land