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Google's filing  (Source: Scribd)
Refusal to consider competitors other than Microsoft partners violates the law, Google argues

Last time a software company this big went to war with the United States government, it was Microsoft Corporation on the receiving end of antitrust accusations.  This time around it is the U.S. government on the defense, as the world's largest internet firm, Google Inc. accuses the U.S. federal Department of the Interior of collusion with Microsoft to illegally hand it email contracts without reviewing competitors products, including Google.

Onix Networking Corp., an enterprise reseller of Gmail and Google's other internet software services is listed as a co-plaintiff in the suit.  Microsoft is not formally listed as a defendant.

The DOI last year went looking for a web-documents service.  However, it decided early along to only consider software offerings that were part of Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite, essentially excluding Google and other third parties.  Google called that decision "arbitrary and capricious".

It began by writing the DOI a complaint letter in the spring, in which it asserted:
We believe these Microsoft-based requirements would violate the Competition in Contracting Act because they bear no rational relationship to the DOI's needs, are not written to enhance competition or innovation, and unduly restrict competition.
Google claims the DOI representatives responded with "assurances to Google representatives that DOI would conduct a full and open competition for its messaging requirements."  But no such investigation appears to ever have occurred.

Some observers are surprised by Google's decision to pursue legal action against the U.S. government.  The internet company is thought to be among the highest profile highest antitrust targets in America's tech industry.  The suit strikes some observers as a surprising role reversal.

Google claims claims that its under antitrust suspicions are fallacious and insists that it's still a "small" company compared to other giants like Microsoft.

Microsoft has been feeling the heat from Google and other "free" or ad-driven software makers.  The company recently ran an aggressive campaign attacking Sun Microsystem's free Open Office 3 suite, which some are viewing as a competitor to Microsoft's lucrative Office suite.


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RE: Hmmm....
By MeesterNid on 11/2/2010 12:10:17 PM , Rating: 2
So the government should be creating requests for bids based on what they think a company has available out there or what that vendor can provide without giving the vendor a chance to give them a proposal?

That sounds reasonable!


RE: Hmmm....
By mcnabney on 11/2/2010 12:31:00 PM , Rating: 3
That is exactly what the government is supposed to do when issuing contracts.

Draw-up the exact requirements for the product or project and allow a bidding process to award the firm that can deliver the needed services for the lowest price.

This is no different than if a government agency sought a wireless service provider, but one of the requirements was that the vendor had to provide Verizon service. I am 100% certain that Verizon's bid for the contract wouldn't be very low.


RE: Hmmm....
By foolsgambit11 on 11/2/2010 8:53:24 PM , Rating: 2
I absolutely agree. But in this case, Google is essentially arguing that the government wasn't requesting a specific product, but was requesting a specific brand of product. Like if the government put out a request, not just for a distributer of bottled water, but for a distributer of Dasani bottled water, without justifying why the government needed to be provided Dasani instead of Aquafina or Crystal Geyser or plain Brand X.

Google thinks the contract should only have demanded that the contractor provide e-mail and web document services that could interface effectively with existing (Microsoft) products used by the DOI, rather than demanding that the web document and e-mail services themselves be run on a MS platform. Whether or not Google (or another company providing licensed Google-based solutions) could meet that requirement in a cost-effective manner would then be covered in the evaluation of the tendered bids. To me, that sounds like a more equitable bidding process than the one structured by the DOI.


RE: Hmmm....
By The Raven on 11/3/2010 1:23:30 PM , Rating: 2
I think the problem is that the service/products that they are using from MS are set up in a proprietary manner. In your example (and tying it in with the previous guy) you are saying that they need to go with Verizon brand based on their currrent situation. But the fact that the gov't is in such a situation is what makes it unfair. If they went with Google products, they wouldn't have to use ALL Google products like they are doing with MS. They could use some Google, some Oracle, and even some plain old FOSS. But what the DOI is saying now is that they HAVE to get the Verizon/Dasani product and that (from what I understand) is what Google has a problem with.


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